Death penalty: Death sentences and executions in 2007

During 2007, at least 1,252 people were executed in 24 countries. At least 3,347 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries. These were only minimum figures; the true figures were certainly higher.

Executions are known to have been carried out in the following countries in 2007:

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Botswana, China, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea (North), Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, USA, Viet Nam, Yemen.

Amnesty International remains concerned that executions may have taken place in Mongolia and Malaysia. However, due to the secretive nature of the use of the death penalty the organization was unable to obtain reliable information.

Death sentences are known to have been imposed in the following countries and territories in 2007:

Algeria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Burundi, Chad, China, Congo (Democratic Republic), Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea (North), Korea (South), Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad And Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, USA, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

In 2007, the Chinese authorities again refused to publish statistics on the government's use of the death penalty leaving the world in the dark about the number of executions carried out. Amnesty International believes there is likely to have been a significant drop in executions during 2007 after Supreme People’s Court (SPC) review for all death sentences was restored on 1 January.

In 2007, 470 executions were recorded by Amnesty International, but this number is based on public reports available and serves as an absolute minimum. The US-based organization "Dui Hua Foundation" estimates that 6,000 people were executed last year based on figures obtained from local officials. In a country as vast as China with tight government controls on information and the media, only the authorities know the reality behind the use of the death penalty.

In June 2007, the authorities claimed a 10 per cent reduction in death sentences as a result of SPC review, but failed to provide figures to back this up. SPC review increases the time between sentencing and execution and a significant backlog in executions may have developed over the year.

Amnesty International would welcome any drop in the number of executions by the world's biggest user of the death penalty. As Beijing prepares to host the Olympics, we challenge the government of China to end its secretive use of the death penalty and provide detailed information about the use of capital punishment. Only then can a full and informed debate around the appropriateness of the use of the death penalty take place.

The worldwide figure for those currently condemned to death and awaiting execution is difficult to assess. The estimated number at the end of 2007 was between 18,311 and 27,562 based on information from human rights groups, media reports and the limited official figures available.

These figures are updated regularly at http://www3.sympatico.ca/aiwarren/global.htm

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Death sentences and executions in 2007 (15 April 2008)