Sunday, 23 April 2006

20,000 waiting to be killed

Amnesty International says that "over 20,000 people on death row across the world are waiting to be killed by their own governments".

While this is a staggering figure, the organisation's annual worldwide survey of the death penalty, released this week, showed that -- once again -- the largest proportion of all executions in 2005 took place in just four countries.

Some 94 percent of all known executions were in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the USA. About 80 percent took place in China alone.

Amnesty International reports at least 2,148 people were executed in 22 countries last year. At least 5,186 people were sentenced to death in 53 countries.

It warned the true figures were certainly much higher, given the secrecy surrounding the use of the death penalty in many countries. Governments like China, Singapore and Viet Nam refuse to release official statistics on who they kill, some even classifying statistics and reporting on the death penalty as a 'state secret'.

Based on available public reports, Amnesty International estimates that China executed at least 1,770 people in 2005, and sentenced at least 3,900 people to death.

In February, Chinese legal scholar Liu Renwen said the country executes as many as 8,000 people each year, an estimate based on information from local officials and judges.

Abolition trend continues
Despite the large number of people on death row around the world, Amnesty International said the trend towards abolition of the death penalty continues to grow.

In 2005 the number of countries retaining the death penalty dropped for the fourth consecutive year, with Liberia and Mexico abolishing it completely. Over the last twenty years, the number of countries with the death penalty has halved.

Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan said: "The death penalty is not a unique deterrent against crime. Instead of relying on the illusion of control given by the death penalty, governments must focus on developing effective measures against crime.

"As the world continues to turn away from the use of the death penalty, it is a glaring anomaly that China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the USA stand out for their extreme use of this form of punishment as the 'top' executors in the world," she said.

Across Asia
Amnesty International's 2005 figures for the Asian region:

1,770+ executions
3,900+ death sentences

94+ executions
21+ death sentences

31 executions
241 death sentences

Viet Nam
21+ executions
65+ death sentences

8 executions
27 death sentences

8 executions
1+ death sentences *

3 executions
218 death sentences

3 executions
17 death sentences

2+ executions
10 death sentences

North Korea
1+ executions *
1+ death sentences

1 execution
11 death sentences

Source: Amnesty International, The Death Penalty in 2005

* 1+ means there was at least one execution/death sentence in 2005, although the exact number is not known.


WOM said...

I'm all for the death penalty. If you have a limb that has become infected, you must amputate it or the rest of your body will become fatally infected. The murderers and rapists here are those limbs.

And also if you're religious as myself...Capital punishment ends the intermediate stage of life and sends the perp to the next one in which God's wrath might be applied.

The only downside to death penalty laws is the fact many innocent people have been caught up in it. I'm saddened by that but that's not the idea's fault as many people argue, it's the way the law is carried out.

I don't care about the number. If you commit a crime eligible for capital punishment, you're sentenced to death.

Anonymous said...

The religious people I know would be horrified that you think of some of your fellow human beings as "infected limbs" - no matter what they have done. My friends are more concerned with God's forgiveness and His hope of salvation, than with deciding who should be killed.

Anonymous said...

Surely if suicide is a sin because your life is not yours to take must also apply to the death penalty. If you can't take away your own life, who is to say you may take the life of another?