Amnesty: Mideast executions boost 2011 global toll (AP) Associated Press) By PETER JAMES SPIELMANN NEW YORK 03/27/12 1:30 am ET)
AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS
AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS Articles-Index-Top
NEW YORK – A surge of executions last year in Iran, Iraq, Saudi
Arabia and Yemen pushed the worldwide total higher than the year
before, the global anti-death penalty group Amnesty International
The United States remains near the top of the global list of nations
carrying out executions, ranked fifth.
Although the global rate of executions has declined by about a third
in the past decade, to 676 documented worldwide in 2011, some 18,750
people remained on death row at the end of the year in 20 nations,
Amnesty International said in its annual review of worldwide trends.
"We do not believe that governments should be in the business of
executing citizens. That´s an inappropriate role for the government
to play, regardless of the circumstances," Suzanne Nossel, the
executive director of Amnesty International USA, told The Associated
Various countries subject a wide array of crimes to capital
punishment, including adultery, sodomy and religious offenses such as
apostasy or "treason against God" in Iran, blasphemy in
Pakistan, "sorcery" in Saudi Arabia, trafficking in human bones in
the Republic of Congo, and economic crimes in China including selling
fake drugs or tainted foods or soliciting deceptive organ
China executes thousands of people annually, many more than the rest
of the world put together. Figures are a state secret, Amnesty
International said, and it has stopped compiling them from public
sources because those numbers lead to underreporting and a gross
underestimate of the true total.
Amnesty International challenged Beijing to publish figures on
sentencing and executions "to confirm their claims that various
changes in law and practice have led to a significant reduction in
the use of the death penalty over the last four years," the group
The wave of executions in the Middle East -- a 50 percent regional
increase -- pushed the global total higher for 2011, with 149
executions worldwide more than in 2010.
Iran executed at least 360 people, many of them under harsh new anti-
drug laws introduced last year. Iranian executions are usually
conducted by hanging, sometimes in public from a construction crane,
which Amnesty said led the Japanese construction equipment company
Tadano to cut off exports of cranes to Iran last July.
Iraq executed 68 people, Amnesty found. "In Iraq, that country has
transitioned and the U.S. has pulled out. Most of those executed have
been Sunni Muslims and suspected members of armed groups," Nossel
told the AP.
Saddam Hussein´s former foreign minister and deputy prime minister,
Tariq Aziz, is on death row in Iraq scheduled for execution this year.
Saudi Arabia executed at least 82; and Yemen executed at least 41.
Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen accounted for 99 percent of the
executions in the Middle East and North Africa, Amnesty said.
Although all the Mideast and North African nations had very different
governments and political dynamics, the 50-percent increase in
executions came against the backdrop of the Arab Spring protests and
Chaos in Libya meant that Amnesty was unable to account for any legal
executions, though torture, detention and summary killings by pro-
government loyalists and by opposition militias who ousted Moammar
Gadhafi´s regime are widely reported. Gadhafi himself appears to have
been videotaped being shot to death by members of a crowd that
Bahrain, also convulsed by political protests, did not execute anyone
in 2011, Amnesty noted.
Amnesty recorded no executions by stoning anywhere in the world in
The rights group criticized Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and
Somalia for staging public executions.
The United States was the only G-8 nation to employ the death penalty
last year. Japan, which also retains capital punishment, recorded no
executions for the first time in 19 years, Amnesty reported.
Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq ranked second through fourth on Amnesty´s
list of total executions.
The United States was ranked fifth, with 43 executions in 2011.
Although the United States is the only nation in the Americas to
execute prisoners, it is on the decline. Amnesty said. Executions
were down from 46 a year earlier and 71 back in 2002.
Yemen ranked sixth on Amnesty´s list with at least 41 executions,
North Korea next with at least 30, and Somalia was eighth with 10
executions, Amnesty reported.
The only European or former Soviet nation to carry out executions in
2011 was Belarus, putting two men to death, Amnesty said.
India conducted no executions for the seventh year in a row and
Pakistan none for a third year, Amnesty said.
Sri Lanka also had no executions in 2011, but 362 people were on
death row. Sri Lanka has sought to hire a hangman and received
several applications for the job, Amnesty quoted Sri Lanka´s Treasury
department as reporting.
Amnesty saw significant progress in sub-Saharan Africa, where only 14
of 49 nations retain the death penalty.
Benin moved to ratify a U.N. treaty abolishing capital punishment
last year. Sierra Leone declared a moratorium on executions, Nigeria
confirmed it had one, and Ghana´s constitutional commission
Amnesty counted a total of 22 African executions in the nations of
Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. (© 2012 The Associated Press
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY