Executions on the Upswing Globally

By Samuel Oakford, Inter Press Service | Report















United Nations – The number of recorded executions carried out worldwide rose 14 percent last year, as anti-terrorism measures in Iraq and hardline drug polices in Iran accounted for more than half of all reported government-sanctioned killings in 2013.

In a report released Thursday, the human rights group Amnesty International said at least 778 people were executed in 22 countries last year, though the total did not include several nations, most notably China, where official execution statistics are a state secret. The Chinese government is estimated to put thousands of prisoners to death by firing squad every year, dwarfing the rest of the world.

“China is a case of its own – nothing comes close to them in terms of real executions,” said Jan Wetzel, advisor on the death penalty to Amnesty International. “However we do see some glimmers of hope, especially in regard to internal discussions – within the Chinese elite more doubt is being created over the death penalty.”

Outside of China, four in five executions took place in three adjoining Middle Eastern states: Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

An escalation in sectarian conflict in Iraq and increased government crackdowns saw a 30-percent upswing in death sentences in the country. Most of the at least 169 killings there fell under Iraq’s strict 2005 anti-terrorism law, passed in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion. In its report, Amnesty expressed concern over the law’s language, vaguely encompassing “acts such as provoking, planning, financing, committing or supporting others to commit terrorism.”

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Reprinted with permission