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At least 20 states resort to death penalty in flawed anti-terror drive

Countries are increasingly resorting to the death penalty in a flawed attempt to combat terrorism-related crimes, Amnesty International said today in a new briefing ahead of the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

At least 20 countries sentenced people to death or carried out executions for terrorism-related crimes last year (Algeria, Bahrain, Cameroon, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, UAE and the USA). Although the use of the death penalty for such offences is often shrouded in secrecy, in recent years Amnesty International has documented a notable rise in its use.

“The increase we are seeing in the use of the death penalty as a flawed response to terrorism-related crimes betrays a fundamental mistake on the part of authorities – there is no evidence that the death penalty deters violent crime more effectively than other punishments. It is borne out of weakness and expediency rather than strength,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Global Issues Programme at Amnesty International. 

“Violent attacks against the general population cause horrendous suffering to victims and their families and can never be justified. Governments must investigate and bring those responsible to justice.

“But state-sanctioned killing does not tackle the root causes of violent attacks. Instead, it simply compounds injustice and suffering and drives the cycle of violence, without delivering justice to the victims.

“The death penalty is always a violation of human rights. More than two thirds of the world’s states have chosen to abolish it in law or practice. All governments should follow suit.”

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, regardless of the crime, the characteristic of the individual or the method of execution. It is the ultimate, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.


On 10 October Amnesty International joins the global abolitionist movement in marking the 14th World Day Against the Death Penalty, whose focus on the use of the death penalty for terrorism-related offences is timely. While armed and other violent attacks are not a new phenomenon, recent years have seen repeated high-profile violent attacks – in many cases against a backdrop of political instability and conflict – that have sent shockwaves throughout the world.

World Day Against the Death Penalty – quick stats 

·        140 countries worldwide – more than two-thirds – are abolitionist in law or practice;

·        103 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes;

·        58 countries retain the death penalty in law;

·        25 countries carried out executions in 2015;

·        The five top executioners in 2015 were China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the USA.