In Nigeria, 659 death sentences were recorded in 2014, a jump of more than 500 compared with the 2013 figure of 141. Military courts handed down mass death sentences against some 70 soldiers during the year in separate trials. They were convicted of mutiny in the context of the armed conflict with Boko Haram.
In Egypt, courts handed down at least 509 death sentences during 2014, 400 more than recorded during the previous year. This included mass death sentences against 37 people in April and 183 people in June following unfair mass trials.
Methods and crimes
Methods of executions in 2014 included beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting. Public executions were carried out in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
People faced the death penalty for a range of non-lethal crimes including robbery, drug-related crimes and economic offences. People were even sentenced to death for acts such as “adultery”, “blasphemy” or “sorcery”, which should not be considered crimes at all. Many countries used vaguely worded political “crimes” to put real or perceived dissidents to death.
The Asia Pacific region saw a mixed bag of death penalty developments in 2014. Executions were recorded in nine countries, one fewer than the year before. Pakistan lifted a moratorium on execution of civilians. Thirty-two executions were recorded in the region, although these numbers do not include China or North Korea, where it was impossible to confirm numbers. Indonesia announced plans to resume executions mainly of drug traffickers in 2015.
The Pacific continued to be the world’s only virtually death penalty free zone, although the governments of both Papua New Guinea and Kiribati took steps to resume executions or introduce the death penalty.
Sub-Saharan Africa saw particular progress in 2014. Forty-six executions were recorded in three countries compared to 64 executions in five countries in 2013 – a drop of 28 per cent. Only three countries - Equatorial Guinea, Somalia and Sudan – were known to have carried out executions.
Madagascar took a progressive step towards abolition when the country’s National Assembly adopted a bill abolishing the death penalty on December 10, although the bill has to be signed by the country’s president before becoming law.
EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA
Belarus - the only country in the region that executes - put at least three people to death during the year, ending a 24-month hiatus on executions. The executions were marked by secrecy, with family members and lawyers only being informed after the fact.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
The widespread use of the death penalty in the Middle East and North Africa continued to be extremely troubling. Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia accounted for 90 per cent of all recorded executions in the region, and 72 per cent of all recorded executions globally (excluding China).
In 2014 executions were recorded in eight countries, two more than in 2013. Sixteen countries imposed death sentences – a large majority of countries in the region.
The overall number of executions recorded in the MENA region dropped from 638 in 2013 to 491 last year. These figures do not include hundreds of executions that are known to have occurred in Iran but which were not officially announced. In 2014 the Iranian authorities acknowledged 289 executions, however reliable sources reported another 454 executions – bringing the total to 743.
States used the death penalty in a flawed attempt to tackle crime, terrorism and internal instability
Sharp spike in death sentences largely due to Egypt and Nigeria - at least 2,466 imposed globally, up 28% on 2013
607 executions recorded, down almost 22% on 2013 (excluding those carried out in China, which executed more than the rest of the world put together)
22 countries known to have executed, the same number as 2013