For opponents of the death penalty, the number of executions in 2019, on the one hand, is of course never a reason to be happy – Amnesty International (AI) counted 657 executions. On the other hand, it is the lowest number that the human rights organization has documented in ten years.
Given the development, the organization sees the international community “overall on a good way to abolish the death penalty”. After all, 2019 is the fourth year in a row that the number of death sentences has decreased. A year earlier it was 5 percent more with 690 executions. In 2015, AI documented more than 1,600 executions.
Probably thousands executed in China
Victims of the death penalty are largely ignored in China, where there are likely to be several thousand. There are also no figures from Syria, North Korea, and Vietnam. These countries have no information about the executions; Amnesty can only estimate the numbers here and calculates two cases for the total.
It is also a step forward that convicts have been killed in only 20 countries. After China, the most death sentences were carried out in Iran with at least 251 cases, and 184 in Saudi Arabia – more than ever before in this country. According to human rights activists, the judiciary uses the executions as a political weapon against dissidents of the Shiite minority. Iraq had at least 100 executions. Many of those killed are said to have belonged to the so-called “Islamic State”. In Egypt, 32 people died significantly fewer than in 2018. In the United States, 22 convicts died from a lethal injection or on the electric chair.
At least 2307 people in 56 countries were sentenced to death worldwide. Here, too, China should be at the top with thousands of cases, followed by Pakistan with at least 632, Egypt with 435 and Bangladesh with at least 220 death sentences. In the United States, 35 people were still sentenced to death – the trend has been going down significantly for several years. Twenty-one U.S. states have since abolished the death penalty, others like California Governor Gavin Newsom. He imposed a moratorium on executions in 2019. “The targeted killing of another person is wrong, and as a governor, I will not allow a single person to be executed,” Newsom said.
Trump wants to get killed
Although no country abolished the death penalty in 2019, Amnesty sees signs of waning acceptance. The death penalty is set to be reintroduced in the Philippines. President Duterte’s drug war has already killed thousands of people without judgment. US President Donald Trump also called for the execution of prisoners sentenced to death, who are in federal prisons for high treason, espionage, murder of juries or judicial officers. No such prisoner has been killed since 2003.
After all, moratoriums on executions still apply in Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Malaysia, and The Gambia. Barbados has abolished the mandatory death sentence for murder. And there are indications that the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, and Zimbabwe want to abolish the death penalty.