Executions worldwide hit 25-year high in 2015: Amnesty

BERLIN • There were more executions worldwide last year than in any year since 1990 and almost 90 per cent occurred in three countries - Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - human rights watchdog Amnesty International said yesterday.

At least 1,634 people were executed last year, the organisation said, adding that the actual number was probably significantly higher, given that there are no definitive numbers for China.

China is believed to remain the world's top executioner, with the number of people put to death annually in the thousands, though the exact figure is a state secret, the rights group said.

Mr Oliver Hendrich, an expert on capital punishment at Amnesty International in Germany, said: "The number of known executions rose by more than 50 per cent compared with 2014. This development is unsettling and alarming."

At least 977 people were executed in Iran last year, mostly for drug crimes, Amnesty said, while more than 320 death sentences were carried out in Pakistan and at least 158 people were executed in Saudi Arabia. In the United States, 28 people were executed last year.

The human rights group said that 102 countries had got rid of the death penalty for all crimes by the end of last year, compared with 60 countries in 1996.

Worldwide, people were sentenced to death or executed for murder, drug-related offences, corruption, armed robbery, adultery, aggravated rape, rape, apostasy, kidnapping and insulting the Prophet of Islam. The methods used were beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

A south Texas man, who bludgeoned and slashed to death a 12-year-old boy and said he drank the blood of the victim, was set to be executed yesterday. Pablo Vasquez, 38, was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection.

Meanwhile, Pakistan hanged three convicted murderers on the same day.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'Executions worldwide hit 25-year high in 2015: Amnesty'. Print Edition | Subscribe