6 April 2016, 18:05 UTC
At least 1,634 people were executed in 25 countries in 2015. This represents a stark increase on the number of executions recorded I 2014 of more than 50%; in 2014 Amnesty International recorded 1,061 executions in 22 countries worldwide.
This is the highest number of executions recorded in more than 25 years (since 1989).
Most executions took place in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the USA – in that order.
China remained the world’s top executioner – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is considered a state secret; the figure of 1,634 excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China.
Excluding China, almost 90% of all executions took place in just three countries – Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
During 2015, 25 countries, about one in 10 of all countries worldwide, are known to have carried out executions – a rise from 22 in 2014. This number has decreased significantly from two decades ago (39 countries carried out executions in 1996).
140 countries worldwide, more than two-thirds, are abolitionist in law or practice.
In 2015, four countries – Fiji, Madagascar, the Republic of Congo and Suriname – abolished the death penalty for all crimes. In total, 102 countries have done so – a majority of the world’s states. In 2015, Mongolia also passed a new criminal code abolishing the death penalty which will come into effect later in 2016.
Commutations or pardons of death sentences were recorded in 34 countries in 2015. At least 71 people who had been sentenced to death were exonerated in six countries in 2015: China (1), Egypt (1), Nigeria (41), Pakistan (at least 21), Taiwan (1) and USA (6).
At least 1,998 death sentences were recorded in 61 countries in 2015, a decline from 2014 (at least 2,466 death sentences in 55 countries).
At least 20,292 people were on death row at the end of 2015.
The following methods of execution were used across the world: beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.
Reports indicated that at least nine people who were under 18 at the time of the crime for which they were sentenced to death were executed in 2015 – four in Iran and five in Pakistan.
In many countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the proceedings did not meet international fair trial
standards. In some cases this included the extraction of ‘confessions’ through torture
or other ill-treatment, including in Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
People continued to be sentenced to death and executed for offences that do not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold of “intentional killing” as set out in international law and standards. These offences included drug-related crimes in at least 12 countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as committing “adultery” (Maldives, Saudi Arabia), economic crimes (China, North Korea, Viet Nam), “apostasy” (Saudi Arabia) and “insulting the prophet of Islam” (Iran).