Amnesty hits out at rise in African death sentences

18 April, 2017, 00:45 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death on Monday. He is accused of sneaking across the border from Iran and spying on behalf of India

The reduction is likely due to there being fewer deaths recorded in Pakistan and Iran. Chine is top once again this year, executing on its own more than all the other killing nations combined.

The US, for the first time since 2006, fell from its place in top five executors to seventh place behind Egypt. Of the world's 1,032 total executions, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan led with the greatest use of the death penalty, the report found.

Pakistan's execution rate dropped from 326 recorded deaths in 2015 to at least 87 the following year.

Oversight of death sentence cases was returned to China's highest court, the Supreme People's Court, in 2007.

At least 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries in 2016.

While the number of executions in the region was down 28% from 2015, the organization said that year had seen an unusually high number of executions.

Amnesty International arrived at its estimate by evaluating information from people sentenced to death and their families or representatives, non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations, field research, news reports and occasional semi-official disclosures in Chinese state media.

Currently, the law only provides for one sentence for those convicted of drug-related offences - death. Amnesty did not manage to find any data on 2016 figures. However it flags a lack of understanding internationally as to how the law is applied in such cases as a concern.

There were 20 executions in the U.S. last year, the lowest level recorded in any year since 1991.


The report also pointed out that Oyo State passed a law in 2016 making kidnapping punishable by execution and that Lagos and Bauchi States passed similar laws in 2017.

China has faced longstanding pressure from the worldwide community to curb its use of the death penalty, which reached a frenzy in 1983 with 24,000 executions.

Amnesty said it was "a clear sign that judges, prosecutors and juries are turning their back on the death penalty as a means of administering justice". "With just four countries responsible for 87 percent of all recorded executions-the death penalty is itself living on borrowed time". Only 64 countries were fully abolitionist in 1997.

Again, Sangiorgio said, Amnesty is concerned about the contravention of worldwide law and standards in Pakistan's death penalty trials for crimes such as "blasphemy", "insulting the prophet of Islam", and so-called "crimes against the state" - none of which met the threshold of "most serious crimes" under global law.

Shamini also called on the Government to be more transparent in the use of the death penalty.

Excluding China, states around the world executed 1,032 people in 2016, according to Amnesty's records.

Shamini said the report however was unable to confirm whether there are any individuals who are on death row here over drug offences.

In Nigeria, the death penalty is imposed for a vast array of crimes, including armed robbery, murder and treason.

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