Executioners still in great demand, says report
Amnesty International: Total of 607 executions and 2,466 death sentences recorded around world in 2014

It's been 31 years since Turkey slammed the door on state sponsored executions, but a new report highlights that globally the practice of death sentences is of growing concern.

While the number of executions decreased 22 percent in 2014, sentences were up almost 500 on the previous year, according to Amnesty International.

Amnesty's "Death Sentences and Executions 2014" report says 607 people were put to death - a drop of 22 percent compared to 2013 - while the most executions - more than 1000 - took place in China, followed by Iran, 289+, Saudi Arabia, 90+, Iraq, 61+, and the United States, 35+.

"China executed more people than the rest of the world put together," underlined Amnesty.

It added, however, that the true extent of the use of the penalty in China is unknown as the data is considered a state secret.

Amnesty said that Chinese authorities made use of the death penalty as a punitive tool in its "Strike Hard” campaign against unrest in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Authorities executed at least 21 people during the year related to separate attacks, while three people were condemned to death in a mass sentencing rally conducted in a stadium in front of thousands of spectators.

Rights groups have expressed concern about such executions, which have been regularly carried out since an upswing in violence blamed on militants from Xinjiang - home to the Muslim Uighur minority group.

The London-based rights watchdog said in its report that there been no change in the number of countries that carried out executions from 2013 - but it was down 50 percent from two decades ago.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty's Secretary General, stated that governments using the death penalty to tackle crime were deluding themselves.

"There is no evidence that shows the threat of execution is more of a deterrent to crime than any other punishment,” he added

Outside of the top five, the countries listed as carrying out the most executions were Sudan, with more than 23, Yemen, 22+, Egypt 15+, Somalia, 14+, Jordan, 11, Equatorial Guinea, 9, Pakistan, 7, Afghanistan, 6, Taiwan, 5, Belarus and Vietnam, 3+, Japan, 3, Malaysia, Palestine and Gaza, 2+, Singapore with 2, and UAE with 1.

"The dark trend of governments using the death penalty in a futile attempt to tackle real or imaginary threats to state security and public safety was stark last year," added Shetty.

"It is shameful that so many states around the world are essentially playing with people’s lives – putting people to death for ‘terrorism’ or to quell internal instability on the ill-conceived premise of deterrence.”

 

Egyptian executions on rise

 

Overall, at least 2,466 death sentences were recorded in 55 countries in 2014, an increase on the 1,925 recorded in 57 countries in 2013.

This increase was mainly due to developments in Egypt - at least 109 death sentences in 2013 compared to 509 in 2014 - and Nigeria, which executed at least 659 people in 2014.

Worldwide, at least 19,094 people remained on death row at the end of 2014.

Amnesty said that seven countries that carried out executions in 2013 did not carry out any in 2014 - Bangladesh, Botswana, Indonesia, India, Kuwait, Nigeria and South Sudan - while seven others resumed executions after a hiatus: Belarus, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore and UAE.

 

Middle East and Africa most troubled

 

Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia combined carried out 90 percent of the executions in the region - 72 percent globally, excluding China.

"In a year when abhorrent summary executions by armed groups were branded on the global consciousness like never before, it is appalling that governments are themselves resorting to more executions in a knee-jerk reaction to combat terrorism and crime,” said Shetty.

 

Pacific death penalty free

 

The Asia-Pacific region, where a total of 32 executions were carried out in 2014, saw Pakistan lifting a moratorium on execution in the wake of a horrific Taliban attack on a Peshawar school.

"32 executions were recorded in the region, although these numbers do not include China or North Korea, where it was impossible to confirm numbers," the report stated.

News was better in the Pacific, which continued to be the "world’s only virtually death penalty free zone," although the governments of both Papua New Guinea and Kiribati took steps to resume executions or introduce the death penalty, the report added.

Belarus, meanwhile, sounded the solitary death knoll for Europe, putting three people to death in 2014.

"The executions were marked by secrecy, with family members and lawyers only being informed after the fact," the report said.

 

Hope at home

 

In Turkey, however, the executioners have long been retired.

The last execution was Oct. 25, 1984, when Hidir Aslan, a member of a left-wing group was put to death - one of at least 50 people executed after the Sept. 12 coup.

Turkey abolished the death sentence partly in 2002, and for all offences in 2004, replacing the punishment with aggravated life imprisonment.

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Last Modified: 2015-04-02 09:04:03
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