In recent years there has been a reversal of death penalties. According to Amnesty International’s latest global report on the death penalty, 2018 saw the lowest level of executions in the last decade. In fact, there was an overall decrease of 31%. This is encouraging in itself, but there is still much to do.
Death Penalties in the World
The death penalty is not the answer. And the drastic drop in executions shows that even the most reluctant states are starting to change their minds. The number of executions reported by Amnesty International globally has dropped from 993 in 2017 to at least 690 in 2018. This represents a decrease of almost a third compared to the previous year.
The case of Iran is emblematic. Here, since the amendment to the anti-drugs legislation, executions have fallen by 50%. Nevertheless, the number remains high, with at least 253 executions, one third of the world‘s executions. Following the downward trend are countries such as Pakistan and Somalia.
Despite the backward steps taken by some states, the number of executions carried out by several of the most ardent users of the death penalty has fallen significantly. This is a desirable indication that it will only be a matter of time before this practice is completely abandoned.
Countries with the Death Penalty
Sri Lanka is moving countercurrently against the global trend. The government, in fact, has started hiring of executioners again. And the president has announced the resumption of executions after more than 40 years.
Together with Sri Lanka, the report reveals the presence of a small number of states that do not want to abandon this practice. Executions, for example, have increased in Belarus, Japan, Singapore, South Sudan and the US. Thailand, for its part, carried out the first death sentence since 2009.
The report focuses a lot on China. In the Asian country, in fact, the data on executions remains a state secret. This makes China the first country for the number of executions, “although the actual level of use of the death penalty – the report says – is unknown since the data is a state secret. Amnesty International believes that thousands of people are condemned to the death penalty and put to death every year.”
China therefore occupies first place in this alarming ranking, with thousands of executions. Then there are Iran, with at least 253 executions, Saudi Arabia (149), Vietnam (85) and Iraq (at least 52).
Towards the Abolition of the Death Penalties
However, there have been many steps towards abolition. Burkina Faso, for example, has adopted a new abolitionist penal code. Gambia and Malaysia have announced an official moratorium on executions. And in the US the Washington state death penalty law has been declared unconstitutional. By the end of 2018, 142 states had abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Of those, 106 were total abolitionists.