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Amnesty International Releases Annual Global Report on the Death Penalty

Earlier this month, Amnesty International published its annual report, Death Sentences and Executions 2017. The report details the 39% decrease in the use of the death penalty worldwide since 2015 and highlights nations which continue to violate international law.

At least 993 executions in 23 countries were carried out in 2017.  China excluded, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan are responsible for 84 percent of reported executions in 2017. It is important to note that the data does not include China’s executions because China considers the figure to be highly classified information; the estimated number of executions in China is in the thousands, making the nation the world’s top executioner.

Fifteen countries concentrated in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia Pacific violated international law by using the death penalty for drug crimes. Bangladesh, Iran, Maldives, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia executed people who were juveniles at the time of the crime, another violation of international law.

For the ninth year in a row, the U.S.A. remains the only country in the Americas to carry out executions. However, the United States dropped from seventh to eighth in total executions globally.  Texas accounts for 30 percent of all executions in the United States, the highest out of any state.  Arkansas, Ohio and Virginia resumed executions after a hiatus of several years explaining the slight rise in American executions, up from 2016.

The report points to the case of Rubén Cárdenas Ramírez, a Mexican national executed in Texas. From the report: “Once again in 2017, the death penalty in the USA continued to be used in ways that contravened international law and standards, including on people with serious mental disabilities and foreign nationals denied their right to consular assistance after arrest.”

As of the end of 2017, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice continuing the global movement towards abolition,“cracks are appearing, even in the minority of countries that still execute people,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.  Twenty countries in sub-Saharan Africa have already ended the use capital punishment, leading the global trend towards the eradication of the death penalty.

The Amnesty International report can be found here.

Submitted by Annie Hamdani