The use of the death penalty is declining: more than two-thirds of countries have abolished or ceased to use it and executions continued to decrease in 2017, Amnesty International says.

In this photograph taken on March 19, 2015, drug convict and death row prisoner Martin Anderson (C), recently identified by Indonesian authorities as Nigerian after earlier identifying him to be from Ghana, is escorted by police commandos during a judicial review hearing in Jakarta. Anderson is facing execution along with nine other foreign drug convicts who are set to be shot in defiance of international anger. The foreigners — two from Australia, one each from Brazil, France and the Philippines and four from Africa — have all lost appeals for mercy from President Jokow Widodo, who argues that Indonesia is fighting a drugs emergency. AFP

But capital punishment remains in place in 23 countries, with China still believed to be the “world’s top executioner”, the group’s 2017 report says.

Here is an overview:

– Death penalty decline –

Amnesty International says that at the end of last year, 142 countries — more than two-thirds — had abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, with 106 ending it in law for all crimes.

The latest were Guinea and Mongolia which in 2017 abolished capital punishment for all crimes, while Guatemala outlawed it for civil crimes only.

Sub-Saharan Africa made significant progress towards abolition with a big reduction in the number of death sentences throughout the region.

Only Somalia and South Sudan carried out executions in 2017 compared with five countries in the region in 2016.

Burkina Faso, Chad, Kenya and The Gambia, meanwhile, took measures to end the use of capital punishment by adopting new legislation or introducing bills.

In Europe and central Asia, Belarus was the only country to have carried out the death sentence in 2017, with at least two executions down from at least four the previous year, Amnesty says.

Kazakhstan, Russia and Tajikistan maintained moratoriums.

– Still killing –

There were 993 executions recorded in 2017 in 23 countries, a decrease of four percent from 2016 and 39 percent from 2015, which was a peak year with 1,634 executions.

Amnesty’s numbers do not include the “thousands” it says are believed to have been executed in China, which classifies this information as a state secret.

Excluding China, Amnesty says Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan — in that order — carried out 84 percent of all executions in 2017. Compared to the previous year, the figures were down by 31 percent in Pakistan and 11 percent in Iran.

In Iran, at least 31 executions were in public.

Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates took up executions again in 2017.

Conversely Amnesty recorded no executions in five countries that had applied the death penalty in 2016: Botswana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sudan and Taiwan, though the latter did execute one man in August 2018.

For the ninth consecutive year the United States was the only country on the American continent to execute prisoners, with 23 recorded.

The United States and Japan, where there were four executions in 2017, were the only countries in the G8 group leading economies to carry out executions.

Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago meanwhile handed out death penalties.

Countries carrying out the penalty last year used methods ranging from decapitation to hanging, firing squad and lethal injection, Amnesty says.


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