Sudhanva Shetty Shetty
Writer, coffee-addict, likes folk music & long walks in the rain. Firmly believes that there's nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate.
Amnesty International has released its annual global report on the death penalty. The report covers the judicial use of the death penalty between January to December 2016.
The information is collected from a variety of sources, including:
However, in many countries, governments do not publish information on their use of the death penalty. Therefore, in nearly all cases, Amnesty International’s figures are minimum figures. The true figures are likely to be higher.
The full report can be read here.
Amnesty International recorded a 37% decrease in the number of executions carried out globally in 2016 as against the previous year. At least 1,032 people were executed − 602 fewer than in 2015 when the organization recorded the highest number of executions in a single year since 1989.
Amnesty International recorded that 3,117 people were sentenced to death in 55 countries for 2016. The overall number of death sentences constitutes a significant increase on the total for 2015 (1,998) and exceeds the record-high total that the organization reported in 2014 (2,466).
The number of countries imposing death sentences decreased from 61 in 2015 to 55 in 2016.
Public executions were carried out in Iran (at least 33) and North Korea.
Amnesty International received reports indicating that at least two people in Iran were executed for crimes committed when they were under 18 years of age.
People with mental or intellectual disabilities were executed or remained under sentence of death in several countries including Indonesia, Japan, Maldives, Pakistan, and the USA.
In the majority of countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the death penalty was imposed after proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards.
In several countries – including Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Saudi Arabia – some convictions and death sentences were based on “confessions” that may have been extracted through torture or other ill-treatment. In Iran and Iraq, some of these “confessions” were broadcast on television before the trial took place, further breaching the defendant’s right to the presumption of innocence.
Military courts sentenced civilians to death in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, and Pakistan.
The death penalty was imposed or implemented for drug-related offences in a number of countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.
On 19 December 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted its sixth resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with strong cross-regional support.
The resolution, which was proposed by 89 UN member states, carries considerable political weight and unequivocally frames the death penalty as a global human rights concern. In addition to its central call on the establishment of a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, the instrument also makes other strong calls on countries that still use the death penalty, for example to reduce the number of offences for which this punishment can be imposed and to increase the transparency in its use, including by making publicly available information on any scheduled executions and by following fair and transparent clemency procedures.
A total of 117 of the 193 UN member states voted in favour of the proposal, while only 40 voted against it and 31 abstained. Positive changes in the voting came from Guinea, Malawi, Namibia, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and Swaziland, which all voted in favour of the resolution. As a further positive sign, Zimbabwe moved from opposition to abstention.
Regrettably, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Philippines and Seychelles went from a vote in favour to abstention, while Burundi and South Sudan moved from vote in favour to vote against. Maldives moved from abstention to vote against.
This is the current situation of the death penalty around the world according to Amnesty International’s report:
Amnesty International “opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.”
Thank you for subscribing.
We have sent you a confirmation email.