Thursday, March 26, 2009

Report: Global Executions Doubled in 2008, U.S. #4 in State Killing

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/rights/133382/report%3A_global_executions_doubled_in_2008%2C_u.s._#4_in_state_killing/

Report: Global Executions Doubled in 2008, U.S. #4 in State Killing

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Posted on March 25, 2009, Printed on March 26, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/133382/

A new report by Amnesty International released Tuesday reveals good news and bad news on the death penalty.


The good news: the world is moving away from capital punishment. "The majority of countries now refrain from using the death penalty," Amnesty reports.


"Europe and Central Asia is now virtually a death penalty free zone following the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan for all crimes.. There is just one country left -- Belarus -- that still carries out executions."


The bad news? From 2007 to 2008, the number of executions carried out by death penalty countries doubled.


Worldwide in 2007, 1,252 people were executed. Last year, "at least 2,390 people were known to have been executed in 25 countries," according to the study, and "at least 8,864 people were sentenced to death in 52 countries around the world."


As usual, the United States received the dubious distinction of being the only county left in the Americas that "regularly executes." Last year, the U.S. carried out 37 executions, with Texas responsible for 18. This number -- the lowest since 1994 -- would have almost certainly been dramatically higher were it not for a halt on executions stemming from controversy over lethal injection -- a moratorium that lasted from September 2007 until May of 2008.


But one country killed more prisoners than any other nation combined -- and that prize goes to China. "With at least 1,718, China was responsible for 72 percent of all executions in 2008," the New York Times reports. "After China were Iran (346), Saudi Arabia (102), the United States (37) and Pakistan (36)."


U.S. ally Saudi Arabia was singled out as showing an increase in executions, carrying out an average of two per week. (Prisoners are behaded, usually in public.) According to Amnesty, "almost half of those executed were foreign nationals from poor and developing countries."


"In Saudi Arabia, prisoners are sentenced in largely secret and unfair trials and defendants, particularly poor migrant workers from countries in Africa and Asia, often have no defense lawyer and are unable to follow court proceedings in Arabic."


Of course, kangaroo courts and sham trials exist the world over -- just look

at our military commissions -- and in the United States, four innocent people were removed from death row in 2008, "bringing to more than 120 the number of such cases since 1975." All four men spent more than ten years awaiting execution.


"Even when trials respect international standards of fairness," Amnesty points out, "the risk of executing the innocent can never be fully eliminated -- the death penalty will inevitably claim innocent victims, as has been persistently demonstrated."


Read Amnesty's report here.

Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.
© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/133382/


See Original Websource:

http://www.amnestyusa.org/death-penalty/international-death-penalty/death-penalty-statistics/page.do?id=1011348

Death Penalty Statistics

In 2008 the world moved even closer towards abolition of the death penalty.

In December, the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) adopted by a large majority a second resolution calling for a moratorium with a view to abolish the death penalty. This resolution consolidates three decades of steady progress towards complete abolition of the death penalty.Developments at the UN provided a welcome boost to campaigners working across the globe to prohibit the death penalty. It also prompted some small but significant steps at the regional level. Notably, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights again called on African states that still retain the death penalty to observe a moratorium on executions in the region with a view to abolish the death penalty.


Europe and Central Asia is now virtually a death penalty free zone following the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan for all crimes. There is just one country left — Belarus — that still carries out executions.


In the Americas, only one state — the United States — consistently executes. However, even the USA moved away from the death penalty in 2008. This year, the smallest number of executions since 1995 was reported in the USA.


The majority of countries now refrain from using the death penalty. Furthermore, in 2008 Amnesty International recorded only 25 out of 59 countries that retain the death penalty actually carried out executions. The practice of states indicates that there is increasing consolidation of majority international consensus that the death penalty cannot be reconciled with respect for human rights.


Despite positive developments a number of tough challenges remain. Countries in Asia carried out more executions in 2008 than the rest of the world put together. The region with the second highest number of reported executions was the Middle East.


In 2008, at least 2,390 people were known to have been executed in 25 countries and at least 8864 people were sentenced to death in 52 countries around the world.


Some of the methods used to execute people in 2008 included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection, shooting and stoning.

Countries with the highest number of executions in 2008

Countries with highest number of executions in 2008

Continuing the trend from previous years, in 2008 China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States of America were the five states with the highest rate of executions. Together they carried out (93%) of all executions worldwide.


In some states the use of the death penalty remained shrouded in secrecy. In China, Belarus, Mongolia and North Korea executions were carried out in a secretive manner or without transparency.


As in previous years a large number of death sentences were handed down in trials that failed to meet internationally recognised standards of fairness. A concerning number of executions were carried out after proceedings that relied upon confessions solicited through torture in violation of international law. The authorities of Iran continued to execute prisoners who were under 18 at the time of the alleged offence in flagrant violation of international law.

More info on the Annual Death Penalty Statistics
 

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1 comment:

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