Amnesty: Executions Down Worldwide, Up in Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia executed 184 people, a record number, comprising 178 men and six women.
  • China and North Korea keep their numbers secret, both thought to be substantial.
  • The United States executed 22 people in 2019, while Belarus executed two.

The number of executions globally decreased for the fourth year in a row, but it is worth noting that only a few countries are responsible for almost all the executions. Amnesty International, an international human rights organization, recorded 657 executions in 2019, with 86 percent of the cases being accounted for by just four countries. 

Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty or AI) is a London-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights. The organization says it has more than seven million members and supporters around the world.

Saudi Arabia executed 184 people, a record number, comprising 178 men and six women. Amnesty International also reported that Iran executed at least 251, Iraq at least 100, and Egypt at least 32. Stinne Bech, head of policy at Amnesty Denmark, believes the figures from Saudi Arabia are worth noting.

Saudi Arabia’s growing use of the death penalty, including as a weapon against political dissidents, is an alarming development,” Clare Algar, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, Advocacy, and Policy said. The report went on:

”On 23 April, there was a mass execution of 37 people, 32 of them Shi’a men convicted on ‘terrorism’ charges after trials that involved confessions extracted through torture. One of those executed that day was Hussein al-Mossalem. During his time in solitary confinement, Mossalem was subjected to beatings with an electric prod and other forms of torture.”

”They may not have done what they are convicted of, and of course, you should not execute anyone at all,” says Stinne Bech. In the past four years, the number of executions worldwide has decreased every year, and 2019 was no exception. The 657 executions recorded by Amnesty are the lowest in ten years. In 2018, the organization registered 690 executions.

Most countries, including almost all First World nations, have abolished capital punishment either in law or in practice; notable exceptions are the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Amnesty estimates that China kills several thousand people a year. However, the figure is uncertain, and China keeps the real numbers secret. Therefore, China is not counted by Amnesty. The same applies to North Korea. 

Stinne Bech noted that there is no transparency with the executions in China, as it is the country in the world that executes the most, albeit discreetly, The country is also hostile to the Amnesty organization, which is not welcome to work therein. “We do not have access to China and do not have the opportunity to do research there. They are not particularly interested in sharing anything. It is state policy to keep the secret, and not mention it in state media,” says Stinne Bech. 

According to Amnesty, at least 26,604 people worldwide are currently sentenced to death. The death penalty is an abhorrent and inhuman punishment and there is no credible evidence that it deters crime more than prison terms,” Algar of Amnesty said. “A large majority of countries recognize this and it’s encouraging to see that executions continue to fall worldwide.”

The United States executed 22 people in 2019. In Europe, only Belarus continues to practice the death penalty. Two were registered executed in Belarus in 2019. The methods used in 2019 were decapitation, electric chair, hanging, lethal injection and shooting according to Amnesty.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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