Protest demanding end to death penalty

Saudi Arabia executed 180 persons in 2019, the highest in a single year in the country despite an overall decline in executions worldwide.

According to a report by Amnesty International released on April 21, Saudi Arabia defied the usual trend of decrease in executions by giving death penalty to 184 people, an increase from 149 in 2018.

Meanwhile, according to the rights group, even though the global death penalties overall plunged in 2019, the executions doubled in other countries like China, Iraq, and Iran.

There has been a fall in the number of people executed in the world consecutively for the last four years. 

In 2019, 657 people received death penalties, which is the lowest figure in a decade.

“The death penalty is an abhorrent and inhuman punishment; and there is no credible evidence that it deters crime more than prisons terms. 

“A large majority of countries recognise this and it’s encouraging to see that executions continue to fall worldwide,” said Clare Algar, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, Advocacy and Policy.

“However, a small number of countries defied the global trend away from the death penalty by increasingly resorting to executions. 

“Saudi Arabia’s growing use of the death penalty, including as a weapon against political dissidents, is an alarming development. 

“Also shocking was the massive jump in executions in Iraq, which nearly doubled in just one year.”

The top five executing countries in 2019 were: China (1000s); Iran (at least 251); Saudi Arabia (184); Iraq (at least 100) and Egypt (at least 32).

Amnesty said China carried out by far the most executions of any country in 2019. 

The number is believed to be in the thousands, but the exact figure is unknown because China considers it a state secret.

"China has yet to publish any figures on the death penalty; however, available information indicates that each year thousands of people are executed and sentenced to death," Amnesty's report said. 

Iran ranked second in the world only to China in its use of the death penalty. 

It put at least 251 people to death last year, Amnesty said, but that's actually a slight decrease from the year before.

Worldwide, the total number of executions declined for the fourth straight year, dropping from 690 to 657 (a figure that excludes the unknown number from China). That's the lowest recorded total of the past decade, according to Amnesty.

In the United States, Amnesty counted 22 executions last year in seven states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas (which had the most, with nine).

Nationwide, 2,581 people were on death row across the U.S.

The report notes that no country in the world eliminated the death penalty in 2019, several U.S states took action against it. 

New Hampshire became the 21st state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, and California governor, Gavin Newsom, halted executions for at least as long as he remains in office, but more than 700 condemned inmates remain on the state's death row.

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