Death penalty, Amnesty report: “883 executions in 2022, never so many since 2017”

In 2022, 883 executions were recorded worldwide, the highest number ever since 2017. This is what Amnesty International announces, in its usual annual report on the death penalty in the world, considering the executions in 20 States and registering a 53% increase over the previous year. The figure does not take into account the thousands of death sentences allegedly carried out in China, and relates to the states in the Middle East – North Africa area, whose total rose from 520 in 2021 to 825 in 2022.

The cases of Saudi Arabia and Iran

“By increasing the number of executions, the states of the Middle East – North Africa area have violated international law and shown a profound contempt for human life. The number of people deprived of their lives has grown enormously: Saudi Arabia has staggeringly executed 81 prisoners in a single day. In the second half of the year, in a desperate attempt to crush popular protests, Iran executed people who had only exercised their right to protest,” said Agnès Callamard , Secretary General of Amnesty International

The real number of executions is higher than it emerges

It is worrying that 90% of recorded executions took place in just three countries in the Middle East – North Africa area: Iran where they rose from 314 in 2021 to 576 in 2022; Saudi Arabia where they tripled, from 65 in 2021 to 196 in 2022 and in Egypt, where 24 prisoners were executed. “The use of the death penalty – declares Amnesty – has remained surrounded by secrecy in several States – such as China, North Korea and Vietnam – however known for the extensive use of the death penalty: the real number of executions is therefore much more higher than it appears. While it is unclear how many times the death penalty was applied in China, it is clear that this country remains at the top of the execution list, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United States of America.

In the United States, the number of executions has increased

The report also highlights that executions have resumed in five states: Afghanistan, Kuwait, Myanmar, Palestine and Singapore. In the United States, the number of executions increased from 11 to 18 compared to 2021. In addition, the number of people executed for drug offenses more than doubled compared to 2021. Executions for drug offenses violate – recalls Amnesty – international human rights law, according to which executions should be limited to the ”most serious crimes”, such as intentional homicide. Executions for drug offenses were recorded in China – although the number is unknown, Saudi Arabia (57), Iran (255) and Singapore (11) and accounted for 37 per cent of the total executions recorded by Amnesty International in the 2022. While executions increased, the number of death sentences remained broadly unchanged: 2016 compared to 2052 the previous year.