London, May 16 (EFE).- The number of executions across the world reached a five-year high of 883 in 2022, with Iran and Saudi Arabia in the lead, Amnesty International said in a report released Tuesday, which does not have data from China.
The executions, which were 53 percent more than in 2021, were carried out in 20 countries, mostly in the Middle East and North Africa, where they shot up from 520 in 2021 to 825 in 2022.
The human rights organization, whose investigation includes only judicial executions, warned that it had been unable to include exact data from China – which it placed in first position, with thousands of executions believed to have been carried out there –, Viet Nam and North Korea, due to the secrecy surrounding figures and limited access to information in those countries.
Despite the increase in executions last year to their highest figure since 2017, when there were 993, Amnesty pointed out that death sentences imposed globally declined slightly from 2052 in 56 countries in 2021 to 2016 in 52 countries in 2022.
90 percent of the world’s known executions outside China – by beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting – occurred in three countries.
They were Iran, where they rose from 314 in 2021 to 576 in 2022, Saudi Arabia, where they jumped from 65 to 196, with 81 in a single day, and Egypt, where they declined from 83 to 24.
“Countries in the Middle East and North Africa region violated international law as they ramped up executions in 2022, revealing a callous disregard for human life,” Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said.
The three nations are followed by the United States, the only one in America, where executions went from 11 in 2021 to 18 in 2022; Iraq, where they fell from 17 to 11; Singapore (11); Kuwait (7); Somalia (with at least 6); South Sudan (5); the State of Palestine (5), and Yemen (4).
Bangladesh and Myanmar each recorded 4 executions and Belarus and Japan 1 each, while statistics from Afghanistan and Syria are also unknown, according to AI.
Last year, executions resumed in five countries, including Afghanistan, Kuwait, Myanmar, the State of Palestine and Singapore, the report said.
Amnesty reported that 37 percent of the executions reported worldwide were for drug-related crimes “in violation of international human rights law”, with 255 in Iran, 57 in Saudi Arabia and 11 in Singapore.
“It’s often those from disadvantaged backgrounds that are disproportionately affected by this callous punishment,” said Callamard, who called on “governments and the UN to up the pressure on those responsible for these blatant human rights violations and ensure international safeguards are put in place.”
AI described as a “glimmer of hope” the fact that six countries abolished the death penalty partially or fully in 2022.
Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic abolished the death penalty for all crimes, while Equatorial Guinea and Zambia abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes only, AI said.
This means that, as of December 2022, 112 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes and nine for ordinary crimes, while others, such as Ghana, Liberia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Malaysia are considering doing so.
“The brutal actions of countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia as well as China, North Korea and Viet Nam are now firmly in the minority. These countries should urgently catch up with the times, protect human rights, and execute justice rather than people,” Agnès Callamard stressed.
AI said that with 125 UN member countries (out of 195) calling for a moratorium on executions, “it has never felt more hopeful that this abhorrent punishment can and will be relegated to the annals of history.” EFE