The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Amnesty’s Death Penalty Report

March 26, 2014

Today, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide. Although 2013 saw more executions than in previous years and several countries resuming executions, there was also progress towards abolition in all regions of the world. Below, see the top 10 things you need to know from our newest report:

  1. Executions rose by almost 15% in 2013, compared with 2012. Amnesty International recorded almost 100 more executions around the world in 2013 compared to 2012.

2.Once again, China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States were the five biggest executioners in the world.

  1. Excluding China, at least 778 people were executed worldwide. Nearly 80% of them were in just three countries: Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.


  1. We believe thousands are executed every year in China, more than the rest of the world put together. But authorities treat the death penalty as a state secret and exact figures are impossible to determine.

  2. The U.S. was again the only country in the Americas to carry out executions, although four fewer people (39 total) were put to death in 2013 than in 2012. The state of Texas alone accounted for 41% of all U.S. executions.

  3. Four countries resumed executions: Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Viet Nam, with most hiding their actions under a cloak of secrecy.

  1. Despite these setbacks, there was progress towards abolition in all regions. Maryland became the 18th U.S. state to abolish the death penalty. Pakistan once again suspended its application of the death penalty and for the second consecutive year. Singapore did not carry out executions. No executions were recorded in Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates. Across Africa, many states also began reviewing their laws with a view to abolishing the death penalty altogether.

  2. At least 23,392 people were on death row at the end of 2013.

  3. People faced the death penalty for a range of non-lethal crimes including robbery, drug-related and economic offences, as well as “adultery” or “blasphemy.” Many countries used vaguely worded political “crimes” to put real or perceived dissidents to death. In North Korea, people were reportedly executed for cannibalism, embezzlement, pornography, escaping to China, corruption, and watching banned videos from South Korea.

  4. Countries that carry out executions are becoming increasingly isolated. Only nine countries in the world – or less than 5% of all states – have consistently executed in the past five years: Bangladesh, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the U.S. and Yemen.