The number of documented executions worldwide has dropped to its lowest level in ten years. According to Amnesty International’s annual statistics released on Monday, the death penalty has been carried out at least 657 times in 20 countries. This is a decrease of five percent compared to 2018. But there have also been countries where the number of executions has increased: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen.
According to Amnesty, the countries with the most executions were China and Iran. China is not included in the statistics, however, since the executions are kept secret there and precise documentation is not possible. Amnesty estimates the number at several thousand. 251 executions were registered in Iran.
“The death penalty is incompatible with basic human rights and should finally be abolished worldwide,” said Amnesty International’s German chief Markus Beeko. The vast majority of states recognize this. “We need to focus international attention more on the small group of states that execute people year after year.”
Amnesty is particularly concerned about the development in Saudi Arabia, which has the presidency of the G20 group of leading economic powers this year. Last year, 184 people were executed there – the highest number that Amnesty International has ever documented for the authoritarian desert state. Beeko said the Saudi leadership also used the death penalty “specifically as a weapon against opposition figures”.