The number of people put to death across the globe in 2015 reached a 25-year high. The alarming surge in executions saw at least 1,634 people sentenced to death in 25 countries, according to a new report by Amnesty International. The figures exclude China, whose numbers remain a state secret despite the country’s title as the world’s top executioner.
Concluding that 2015 saw highest number of executions recorded by Amnesty International since 1989, the harrowing investigation also revealed a dramatic 54% increase since last year. Some of the methods used to carry out the death sentences included hanging, shooting, lethal injection, and beheading. In most countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the penalty was imposed using guidelines that did not meet international standards for a fair trial.
Almost 90% of the executions took place in three countries: Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. However, before Westerners become too smug — and in spite of a drop in numbers — the U.S. still ranked as one of the top five executioners globally.
For the seventh consecutive year, the U.S. remains the only country to use capital punishment in the Americas, carrying out 28 executions in six states. Amnesty claims the reason for the lowest recorded use of the death penalty in the U.S. since 1991 is due to legal and logistical challenges concerning the use of lethal injections. In addition, the number of death sentences imposed in the United States was the lowest since 1977 (clearly, the number of executions recorded doesn’t include the victims of drone strikes abroad, unarmed citizens killed by police, or those who died in custody).
Despite a dramatic rise in the number of people being put to death around the world, there was some good news; Fiji, Madagascar, the Republic of Congo, and Suriname completely abolished the death penalty for all crimes. In addition, Mongolia passed a new criminal code abolishing the death penalty, which will take effect later in 2016.
The report observed:
“Whatever the short-term setbacks, the long-term trend is still clear: the world is moving away from the death penalty. Those countries that still execute need to realize that they are on the wrong side of history and abolish the ultimate cruel and inhuman form of punishment.”
You can read Amnesty International’s full analysis here.