HRNW REPORT: More people were put to death around the world last year than at any point in the last quarter-century, a report has revealed. According to Amnesty International at least 1,634 people were executed in 2015, an increase of 54% on the year before and the highest number Amnesty has recorded since 1989.
Amnesty said that the “profoundly disturbing” figures showed that the top five executioners in the world in 2015 were China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US.
The total number of people executed does not include figures from China, where thousands were likely to have been executed, because the death penalty is a state secret, according to Amnesty.
In most countries that executed people, the death penalty was imposed after trials that were not fair.
Iran, Saudi and Pakistan account for 89% of all executions.
An increase in executions of 31% in Iran and 76% in Saudi Arabia largely explain the global increase in killings.
In Iran at least 977 people were executed in 2015 – compared to 743-plus in 2014 (up 31%) – the vast majority for drug-related crimes
Iran is one of the world’s last executioners of child offenders, in violation of international law. Last year the country executed at least four people who were under 18 at the time of the crime for which they were convicted
In Saudi Arabia, most people killed were beheaded, but firing squads were also used and executed bodies were sometimes displayed in public.
Many countries are executing people for crimes other than murder, which breaks international law.
Amnesty International’s secretary general Salil Shetty said: “The rise in executions last year is profoundly disturbing.
“Not for the last 25 years have so many people been put to death by states around the world.
“Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have all put people to death at unprecedented levels, often after grossly unfair trials. This slaughter must end.”
Human Rights Minister Baroness Anelay said that the figures were disturbing and stressed that the death penalty is considered “unjust, outdated and ineffective”.
She said: “I am deeply troubled by the increase in the number of reported executions in 2015, which was driven by concerning increases in Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and we make our opposition well known at the highest levels to countries which continue to apply it. Our message to them is clear, the death penalty is unjust, outdated and ineffective. It also risks fuelling extremism.
“Despite these concerning figures there has been progress in many countries. It is welcome that in 2015 Fiji, the Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Suriname all abolished the death penalty.
“The Foreign Office will continue to use its diplomatic network to push for progress towards the global abolition of the death penalty.”
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