Document - Death Penalty 2012: Facts and Figures
AI Index: ACT 50/004/2013
EMBARGO: Wednesday 10 April 2013, 00.01 GMT
DEATH PENALTY 2012: FACTS AND FIGURES
At least 682 people were executed in 21 countries in 2012. In 2011, Amnesty International reported 680 executions in 21 countries worldwide.
Most executions took place in China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, USA and Yemen – in that order.
China executed more people than the rest of the world put together – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as data is considered a state secret, and the figure of 682 excludes thousands of executions carried out in China.
In Iraq, there was a stark rise in the use of the death penalty – at least 129 people were executed, almost double the 2011 figure of at least 68.
During 2012, only 21 countries, about one in 10, carried out executions – the same number as in 2011, but down by a quarter from a decade ago (28 countries executed in 2003).
140 countries worldwide, more than two-thirds, are abolitionist in law or practice.
On 20 December, 111 Member States of the United Nations voted in favour of the fourth UN General Assembly resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
Commutations or pardons of death sentences were recorded in 27 countries in 2012 - down from 33 in 2011.
At least 1,722 death sentences were imposed in 58 countries – down from 1,923 in 63 countries in 2011.
At least 23,286 people were on death row at the end of 2012.
In 2012, some countries that had not used the death penalty for long periods carried out executions, for example Pakistan (first execution in more than four years), India (first execution in more than eight years), and Gambia (first execution in almost three decades).
The following methods of execution were used across the world: beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.
At least two people were executed in Yemen for crimes that were committed when they were under 18 years of age, in violation of international law.
In the majority of countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the proceedings did not meet international fair trial standards. In some countries this included the extraction of ‘confessions’ through torture or other ill-treatment, for example in Afghanistan, Belarus, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.
In Belarus and Japan, prisoners were not informed of their forthcoming execution, nor were their lawyers and families. In Belarus and Botswana, the bodies of executed prisoners were not returned to their families for burial.
Public executions were known to have been carried out in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.
People continued to face the death penalty for offences that do not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold of “involving intentional killing” as defined in international law, including for drug-related crimes in a number of countries, as well as “adultery” and “sodomy” (Iran), “blasphemy” (Pakistan), economic crimes (China) and rape (Saudi Arabia).
At least 40 executions were carried out in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
In August, nine people were put to death in Gambia on one day – the first executions there in almost three decades.
At least 19 executions were reported in Sudan in 2012. At least 199 death sentences were known to have been imposed.
Benin on 5 July acceded to a key UN treaty aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. Madagascar signed the same treaty on 24 September, but has not yet ratified it.
The government of Ghana accepted recommendations towards abolishing the death penalty in its new Constitution.
Unlike in 2011, no death sentences were imposed in Burkina Faso, Malawi or Sierra Leone. Following pardons in April, no person is on death row in Sierra Leone.
The USA was the only country in the region to carry out executions, 43 in 2012 (the same figure as in 2011). Only nine states executed in 2012, compared to 13 in 2011. In April, Connecticut became the 17th abolitionist US state.
With the exception of 12 death sentences imposed in three countries (Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago), Central and Southern America and the Caribbean were death penalty-free in 2012.
Guatemala commuted 53 death sentences in 2012 after a review by the Supreme Court of all death row prisoners’ cases.
At least 38 executions were carried out in eight countries in the region. This figure does not include the thousands of executions that are believed to have been carried out in China, which executed more people than the rest of the world put together. But the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as data is a state secret.
India carried out its first execution in more than eight years in November, when the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks was hanged.
Pakistan carried out the first execution in more than four years, while Afghanistan and Japan resumed executions after seventeen and eighteen months, respectively.
Viet Nam did not implement any death sentences in 2012, while Singapore observed a moratorium on the death penalty while considering legal amendments to its death penalty laws.
Mongolia on 13 March acceded to a key UN treaty aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA
Belarus continued to be the only country in the region to carry out executions, and did so under strict secrecy. At least three men were executed in 2012.
Latvia fully abolished the death penalty on 1 January 2012, becoming the 97th country in the world to do so.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
At least 557 executions were carried out in six countries in the region. Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen alone account for 99 per cent of all confirmed executions in the region.
It could not be confirmed if executions took place in Egypt or Syria.
Iraq saw an alarming increase in the use of the death penalty – at least 129 people were executed, almost double the 2011 figure of at least 68.
In Tunisia, 125 people on death row had their sentences commuted. However, the country’s proposed draft Constitution did not rule out the death penalty.
For more information on the death penalty in 2012 please contact the Amnesty International Press Office:
+44 207 413 55 66 firstname.lastname@example.org @amnestypress
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK