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Death Penalty in the Modern World


According to the latest data compiled by the non-governmental organization Amnesty International, in 2022:

55 countries used the death penalty;
Nine of these countries used the death penalty only for the most serious crimes, such as multiple murders or war crimes;
23 countries allow the death penalty but have not used it for 10 years.

Amnesty International's data is compiled from official figures, media reports and information from death row inmates, their families and representatives. China does not publish statistics on the use of the death penalty. Excluding China, Amnesty International recorded 883 executions worldwide in 2022.

This is the highest number of executions since 2017, and is 53% more than the number of executions in 2021 (579 people). However, this is far less than in 1988, 1989 or 2015, when more than 1,500 people were executed in one year. According to Amnesty International, at least 2,016 death sentences were imposed in 52 countries in 2022. At least 2,052 death sentences were imposed in 56 countries in 2021.

Many prisoners spend years or even decades on death row before being executed. Twenty countries carried out death sentences in 2022, up from 18 countries in 2021.

Amnesty International believes that China uses the death penalty more often than any other country. The country is believed to execute thousands of people a year, but this cannot be confirmed. Besides China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United States have executed the most people.

The only country in Europe that still uses the death penalty is Belarus (it retained this type of punishment, which was present in Soviet legislation, even after the collapse of the USSR). According to the human rights center “Viasna”, every year from one to several people are executed in Belarus (2 in 2018, 4 in 2017). The Global Coalition Against the Death Penalty reports that four people are currently sentenced to death in Belarus, and one prisoner was executed in 2022 (in the previous two years, according to the organization, no people were executed in this country).

In its report, Amnesty International identifies the 11 countries in the world where people are executed most often. These include China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, USA, Vietnam and Yemen. The organization also believes North Korea "probably regularly uses the death penalty" but cannot independently confirm this.

The number of executions in Saudi Arabia in 2022 was the highest in 30 years.

Five countries - Bahrain, Comoros, Laos, Niger and South Korea - have sentenced people to death in 2022 but have not used the death penalty for several years.

Although the number of people executed in the United States has increased since 2021, it is far less than in 1999, when the rate peaked.

112 countries do not use the death penalty at all, up from 48 in 1991. Six countries have fully or partially abolished the death penalty in 2022. Four countries - Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic - have canceled it completely. Equatorial Guinea and Zambia have said the death penalty will only be used for the most serious crimes. In April 2023, the Malaysian Parliament also voted to abolish the mandatory death penalty for 11 serious crimes, including murder and terrorism. Ghana's parliament voted to completely abolish the death penalty in July 2023.


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