Amnesty International Reports Global Execution Rate Highest In 25 Years

Amnesty International released a report on Tuesday labelled Death penalty 2015: Facts and figures which showed a startling increase in the rate of executions across the globe over the past year.

The human rights group reported that 1,634 people were recorded as executed across the world in 2015, a massive increase from 1,061 people in 2014 according to SBS.

“The rise in executions last year is profoundly disturbing,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s secretary general. “Not for the last 25 years have so many people been put to death by states around the world.”

The shocking numbers released by Amnesty International on executions do not include all the executions in China, where data on the death penalty is considered a state secret; North Korea, where numbers could not be confirmed; or Syria, where numbers could also not be confirmed. Yet 2015 still had the highest number of executions recorded since 1989 and a 50 percent increase since 2014 according to the New York Times.

According to Amnesty International, “China remained the world’s top executioner – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is considered a state secret; the figure of 1,634 excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China,” meaning the 2015 figure should be a lot higher.

Amnesty International reported that beheading, hanging, lethal injection, and shooting were the methods of execution used across the world and the increase came to their surprise as the trend of capital punishment is on the decline. Majority of the world’s countries, 102 of 195, have abolished what Shetty called “this most horrendous of punishments.”

The harrowing report put out by Amnesty International this week pointed out that people continue to be sentenced to death and executed for offences that do not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold of “intentional killing” as set out in international law and standards. Offences include drug-related crimes in at least 12 countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as committing adultery, economic crimes, apostasy, and “insulting the prophet of Islam.” People put to death for these reasons did not meet “international fair trial standards” and should not have been executed.

Alarmingly, Amnesty International also indicated that at least nine people who were executed in 2015 were under the age of 18 at the time of their crime.

Global figures

Amnesty International recorded 1,634 people were executed in 25 countries in 2015. This is the highest number of executions recorded in more than 25 years despite two-thirds, 140 countries, of the world having abolished the death penalty. Four countries; Fiji, Madagascar, the Republic of Congo, and Suriname abolished the death penalty in 2015 yet the figures continue to climb.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa put 443 people to death in 2015
  • Pakistan put 326 people to death in 2015
  • Indonesia put 14 people to death in 2015
  • Saudi Arabia executed at least 158 people in 2015
  • In the USA 28 people were executed in 2015

Despite the global increase in executions, the number of death sentences in the U.S decreased to the lowest number recorded since 1977. The United States is the only country in the Americas to execute people for the seventh consecutive year. Nearly half, 13, of the people executed in the U.S. were put to death in Texas. Missouri executed six people; Georgia, five; Florida, two; Oklahoma, one; and Virginia one. Amnesty International said that 60 percent of the people executed in the U.S. in 2015 were black or Hispanic, according to SBS.

In other countries, numbers rose dramatically leading to the global increase. The number of executions in Saudi Arabia increased by 76 percent, executions in Iran rose 31 percent, and the 326 executions recorded in Pakistan in 2015 were the highest ever seen by Amnesty International,

At least 20,292 people were on death row at the end of 2015 worldwide.

Read the full report here.

[Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images]