According to a report released today, March 27, 2012, by the human rights organization Amnesty International, at least 676 people were executed in 20 countries in 2011, compared with 527 executions in 23 countries in 2010. This does not include the thousands of people who were believed to have been executed in China last year, where these figures are considered a state secret. Compared with a decade ago, when 31 countries were shown to carry out executions, this represents a significant increase in the number of countries that have abandoned the death penalty.
Executions rose steeply in 2011 in the Middle East and North Africa, up almost 50% compared to the previous year. Countries with the highest number of recorded executions include Iran (at least 360 people), Iraq (68), Saudi Arabia (at least 82), Yemen (at least 41), and the United States (43). Belarus was the only European or former Soviet nation to carry out executions, putting two people to death.
Along with analyzing recent developments in the move toward worldwide abolition, the Amnesty International Annual Report contains figures gathered by the organization on the application of the death penalty worldwide. Of note is the fact that in sub-Saharan Africa, only 14 of 49 nations retain the death penalty.
Amnesty International’s Death Sentences and Executions 2011 is available online at http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/ai_global_dp_2011_stats_report-_act500012012en.pdf