INTERNATIONAL: Amnesty International Report Finds Global Trend Away from Death Penalty

A new report issued by Amnesty International, Death Sentences and Executions 2010, shows a global trend away from the use of the death penalty. According to the report, only four countries in the G20 (representing the world’s major economies) carried out executions in 2010 (China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.), 36 of the 53 African Union member states are abolitionist in law or in practice, and only 21 of the 192 UN member states carried out executions in 2010. The report stated, “At the end of 2010 the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty could not have been clearer. While in the mid-1990s 40 countries on average were known to carry out executions each year, during the first years of this century executions were reported in 30 countries on average. Most recently, 25 countries reportedly executed prisoners in 2008 while 19 countries – the lowest number ever recorded by Amnesty International – did so in 2009…. The number of countries that are abolitionist in law or practice has substantially increased over the past decade, rising from 108 in 2001 to 139 in recent years.”

Amnesty International also reported at least 23 countries were known to have carried out at least 527 executions in 2010. This number does not include the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China, where the death penalty system is not as transparent as in other countries. Amnesty’s report states that the nations carrying out the most executions in 2010 were China (1000s), Iran (252+), North Korea (60+), Yemen (53+) and the United States (46). In 2010, one more country, Gabon, removed the death penalty from its laws, and at the end of the year, bills abolishing the death penalty were pending in the parliaments of Lebanon, Mali, Mongolia, and South Korea.

(Amnesty International, “Death Sentences and Executions 2010,” March 2011). See International and Studies.