Amnesty International recorded at least 657 executions in 20 countries in 2018, down by 5% from 2018 (at least 690 executions). This figure represents the lowest number of executions that Amnesty International has recorded in at least a decade.
Reasons to abolish death Penalty:
- It is irreversible and mistakes happen.Execution is the ultimate, irrevocable punishment: the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated. Since 1973, for example, more than 160 prisoners sent to death row in the USA have later been exonerated or released from death row on grounds of innocence. Others have been executed despite serious doubts about their guilt.
- It does not deter crime.Countries who execute commonly cite the death penalty as a way to deter people from committing crime. This claim has been repeatedly discredited, and there is no evidence that the death penalty is any more effective in reducing crime than life imprisonment.
- It is often used within skewed justice systems.In many cases recorded by Amnesty International, people were executed after being convicted in grossly unfair trials, on the basis of torture-tainted evidence and with inadequate legal representation. In some countries death sentences are imposed as the mandatory punishment for certain offences, meaning that judges are not able to consider the circumstances of the crime or of the defendant before sentencing.
- It is discriminatory.The weight of the death penalty is disproportionally carried by those with less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds or belonging to a racial, ethnic or religious minority. This includes having limited access to legal representation, for example, or being at greater disadvantage in their experience of the criminal justice system.
- It is used as a political tool.The authorities in some countries, for example Iran and Sudan, use the death penalty to punish political opponents.
In 2019, most known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt – in that order China remains the world’s top executioner – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is classified as a state secret; the global figure of at least 657 recorded in 2019 excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China. Amnesty International holds that the death penalty breaches human rights, in particular the right to life and the right to live free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.