Death penalty 'becoming thing of the past', says Amnesty

File photo of Iraqi detainee at Camp Cropper detention centre in Baghdad (21 May 2008) The report highlights an "alarming" rise of executions in Iraq, where numbers almost doubled last year compared to 2011

Related Stories

The trend toward abolishing the death penalty continues, despite some countries resuming executions in 2012, Amnesty International says.

Executions in India, Japan, Pakistan, and Gambia were disappointing regressions, Amnesty notes.

But elsewhere the death penalty was "becoming a thing of the past," secretary-general Salil Shetty said.

The five countries carrying out most executions remain China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the US.

Amnesty International highlights an "alarming" rise in the use of the death penalty in Iraq - with almost double the number of executions last year compared to 2011, up from 68 to at least 129.

Of the others in the five countries in the highest number of executions, the rights group logged at least 314 executions in Iran in 2012, and at least 79 in Saudi Arabia.

The US carried out 43 executions - the same number as in 2011, but in fewer states.

However, no precise statistics can be given for China, where numbers are secret, but where the group says it believes thousands were executed - more than the rest of the world put together.

Methods of execution

The report found that there was progress towards abolishing the death penalty in all regions of the world, despite a number of countries resuming executions after periods of not carrying them out.

Lindsay Sandiford during her trial in November 2012 British national Lindsay Sandiford faces death by firing squad for drug trafficking in Indonesia

India carried out its first execution since 2004, of the only surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attack.

Indonesia - where a British woman, Lindsay Sandiford, is facing a death sentence for drug trafficking - has also just carried out its first execution in more than four years.

This was not included in Amnesty International's latest report but it covers last year.

Overall, there were just two more known executions last year - 682 in all - compared to 2011. And there were fewer newly-imposed death sentences - 1,722 against 1,923 - in fewer countries - 58 against 63.

Also, despite the resumptions of executions in some countries, overall the number of states where they were recorded last year was the same - 21 - as in 2011.

And Amnesty International points out that this is down significantly from 28 a decade ago. It said Latvia last year became the 97th country to abolish capital punishment for all crimes.

Last year, according to the report, methods of execution included hanging, beheading, firing squad, and lethal injection.

Death penalty figures, compiled by Amnesty International

More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • Comment number 391.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    "Looking at the statistics, what amazes me is the obsessive criticism of the death penalty in America (43 executions in 2012) by the likes of Amnesty International when there is little comment on China's appalling record executing well over 1000 people."

    You should visit Amnesty's website, you'll find plenty of criticism of China, not only for this but for their myriad human rights abuses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    Why is it so stupid? Come on, tell me why you feel I should pay for your version of morality. My version of morality is an eye for an eye & if you dont like it, you pay to keep scumbags alive! Ahh, perhaps its stupid because all of a sudden you can feel your wallet being threatened & therefore leap on some precarious high ground to try & justify your position!

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    I support the death penalty for serial killers, child murderers and paedophiles such as Moira Hindley etc. If, for example, you feel that the rape and murder of children is acceptable then I feel you have just opted out of society and humanity. The World is a better and safer place without you in it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    378 Percy.
    That doesn't hold water! People won't park on the pavement admittedly. But to compare that with murder, especially those born out of emotion is just ludicrous.
    It has been shown the deter factor is negligible. Albert Pierrepoint hanged "some hundreds" of people. None of these were put off by hanging.

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    381 Jarvish

    The type of people that most think deserve the DP are mentally sick, multiple killers, rapists, child molesters etc.... they do not think of the consequence, most of these people do things on impulse and desire, not once thinking of the punishment

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    I hear the argument 'what if you are wrong' ... with today's advancement in Forensics


    There can always be mitigating circumstances. Even if a person is caught on camera killing another, it's not an open and shut case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    372. godmac
    I hear the argument 'what if you are wrong' ... with today's advancement in Forensics, that should happen less.
    On the contrary. Because the public (ie the Jury) think DNA is beyond doubt you can now be hung because a cop hasn't washed his hands after handling your clothes and then a piece of evidence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    370. Giles

    When convicted of a crime, you should be punished. If the crime is serious enough that warrants paying with your life, so be it. 3 of the ones on your list would certainly qualify in my eyes.

    Its a sad world world when all sorts of disgusting humans attract more rights than the victims.

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    311. Pharmagiles
    Your logic is appalling. I gave one example of a re-offender (Philpott). There are many many more. Each innocent death caused by a re-offender is the state's fault for failing to protect them. Take any newspaper for a year and you will see many many stories of released criminals re-offending. You will struggle to find more than a handful of miscarriages of justice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.


    What a stupid argument - if the USA didn't have the death penalty it would have the same murder rate as the UK would it?!

    Admit it is impossible to prove whether the death penalty is a deterrent or not, but my overriding point is that if you generally give tougher punishments on crime then less crimes will be committed - that's just common sense isn't it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    When hanging was the norm ,there were no repeat offenders. The cases from last week in both England and Scotland clearly demonstrated the need for this ultimate sanction to be available.

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    The question : Is the law for
    1. Revenge
    2. To rehabilitiate
    3. To neutralize the threat i.e removing them from society in jail.
    4. To recompense"

    That is the same question I keep asking.

    At the moment, our system tries to do all of those things and fails to do any of them properly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    When we see the weak 'punishments' for criminals' previous crimes, such as was evident in the current case example of Mr Philpott, the public's perception is that the UK is soft on crime. If the death penalty were to apply for parking on the pavement then, mysteriously, no-one would park on the pavement. An extreme hypothesis - but it demonstrates the power of the deterrent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    @372 Why do you think there should be different levels of conviction? and who decides how sure of guilt we are? Surely that person who decides how "good" the evidence is could take the place of a jury, which would be totally wrong. Secondly forensics isn't all it's cracked up to be, it can tie innocent people to crimes just through chance, i.e. being at the scene of crime an hour before etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    Can't see why we should favour a reduction in the deaths of criminals who have caused death or suffering to others? It's just theeradication of worthless air wasters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    The Nazis were a socialist and therefore left wing political party
    Wow, & the DPRK (North Korea) is democratic then?

    America has some unpleasant bedfellows. When assessing your values it's a good idea to think who you wish to emulate. Personally i'd like to be closer to Denmark & the Netherlands than Iran & USA. I find others wish to have Sharia type punishments shocking

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    359. You're well off topic but let me remind you that all totalitarian regimes are similar, be they 'left'or 'right' to begin with. They all become cliques who rob the country and establish dynastic systems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    Every Country has its fair share of murders commited. The UK is no exception, we do not have the Gun crime of some countries, but our Knife crime is on par with it.
    If you carry a Knife you should get life, if you take a life with a Knife expect to give up your life.
    We Tax payers keep these murders alive!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    I hear the argument 'what if you are wrong' ... with today's advancement in Forensics, that should happen less. If there is any doubt whatsoever, elect for a jail sentence. I don't agree in killing people for fun but some crimes do fit this punishment.


Page 18 of 37


More World stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.