Executions decrease worldwide but number of death sentences spikes

Filipinos portray Jesus Christ's crucifixion during a protest against killings in Manila, Philippines, 11 April 2017. [EPA/ Mark R. Christino]

Amnesty International’s 2016 report shows that while there were fewer executions around the world than in 2015, more death sentences were handed down. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

From beheadings in Saudi Arabia and hangings in Afghanistan, Japan and Pakistan, to the lethal injection in China, the United States and Vietnam: the death penalty is still a legal recourse in many countries.

Execution by shooting is still practised in Belarus, China, Indonesia, North Korea and Taiwan. At least 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries last year according to Amnesty’s annual death penalty report.

The number of cases of capital punishment decreased by a third compared to 2015, when 1,634 deaths were recorded. But there are still a high number of unreported cases.

China guards data relating to the death penalty like a state secret. There were no concrete figures for Vietnam in 2016 either.

There has been progress of sorts, given that India, Jordan, Oman, Chad and the United Arab Emirates, did not report any executions in 2016.

Council of Europe condemns Jordan hangings

Jordan’s execution of 15 prisoners has provoked “indignation” from Council of Europe leader Pedro Agramunt, who insisted the Arab kingdom remains committed to maintaining a moratorium on the death penalty. EURACTIV Spain reports.

The US was the only country on the American continent to execute people last year. Belarus, which carried out the death penalty on four people last year, was the only European country.

The number of people sentenced to death was three times the number executed. In 55 countries around the world, 3,117 were handed the death penalty.

Again, this number does not take into account exact data from China, where it is estimated several thousand death sentences were handed down. The total number of sentences increased dramatically compared with 2015, when 1,998 were recorded.

Although 141 countries have now got rid of the death penalty, with Benin and Nauru joining that list last year, Amnesty maintains that a full global ban is the only course of action.

Turkey has toyed with the idea of bringing back capital punishment. That would destroy any hopes the country still has of joining the European Union, as the death penalty is a red line that bars candidate countries from securing membership.

Turkish return to death penalty would be 'KO' to membership dreams

In one week, the European Commission will present its progress report on Turkey. But Erdoğan’s policies continue to rub Brussels up the wrong way. EURACTIV Germany reports.

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