Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Asia leads the world's known executions

Asian countries have once again lead the world's known executions, according to annual statistics released today by Amnesty International (AI).

The human rights organisation reported that during 2007, at least 1252 people were executed in 24 countries, and at least 3347 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries.

Ten countries accounted for 1205 of the known executions in the past year -- or 96 per cent of the global total.

Half of these ten countries are in Asia, between them accounting for 962 of known executions -- 77 per cent of the global total.

The top ten executioners included:

China 470+
Iran 317+
Pakistan 135+
Viet Nam 25+
Afghanistan 15

The statistics recorded a drop in the number of known executions in China, but sharp increases in the numbers recorded in Iran, Pakistan and Viet Nam.

China recorded a drop from more than 1010 known executions in 2006.

In Iran there were 177 executions counted in 2006, Pakistan 82 and Viet Nam 14.

AI estimated the global death row population was between 18,311 and 27,562 people at the end of 2007, based on the number of people thought to be condemned to death and awaiting execution.

Brutal secrets
These figures must be taken with caution, however, since they record only those executions that are publicly known.

For a penalty that is shrouded in such secrecy in many countries, the true number of executions each year is certainly significantly higher.

The AI report Death sentences and executions in 2007 highlighted China, Singapore, Malaysia and Mongolia as among the many countries that "carry out executions in secret and refuse to divulge any information on the use of the death penalty".

"The United Nations has repeatedly called for the death penalty only to be used in an open and transparent manner," AI said.

It said China was "the world's top executioner", classifying the death penalty as a state secret.

"As the world and Olympic guests are left guessing, only the Chinese authorities know exactly how many people have been killed with state authorization," AI said in a media release.

"The secretive use of the death penalty must stop: the veil of secrecy surrounding the death penalty must be lifted. Many governments claim that executions take place with public support. People therefore have a right to know what is being done in their name."

Asia's table
Amnesty International's 2007 figures for the Asian region:

15 executions
death sentences

6 executions
93 death sentences

470+ executions
1860+ death sentences

100+ death sentences

1+ executions
11+ death sentences

317+ executions
Unknown number of death sentences

9 executions
23 death sentences

12 death sentences

45 death sentences

North Korea
Unknown number of executions
Unknown number of death sentences

135+ executions
307+ death sentences

Papua New Guinea
3+ death sentences

2 executions
2 death sentences

South Korea
2 death sentences

Sri Lanka
10+ death sentences

5 death sentences

6+ death sentences

Viet Nam
25+ executions
83+ death sentences

AI said it was concerned that Mongolia and Malaysia may have executed people, but "due to the secretive nature of the use of the death penalty the organization was unable to obtain reliable information".

Related stories:
20,000 waiting to be killed – 23 April, 2006


hughiew said...

Thanks for the clear info Tim.

Despite the secrecy and the difficulty putting the stats together is is possible to speculate why the numbers are down again this year?

Is the China figure for instance a reflection of encouraging trends do you think?


hughiew said...

Thanks for the info and context Tim.

I know it's difficult to conclude too much given the secrecy and problems collecting the figures. However I wonder if it's possible to speculate why the overall numbers are again down this year.

Any thoughts?