The number of judicial executions recorded globally in 2022 reached the highest figure in five years, according to Amnesty International’s annual review of the death penalty, released May 16. Excluding the thousands believed to have taken place in China, a total of 883 executions were recorded across 20 countries, marking a 53% increase from the previous year. The Middle East and North Africa region saw a significant rise in executions, with Saudi Arabia executing 81 people in a single day in March 2022 out of a year total of 196, while Iran executed a record-high 576 individuals. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt accounted for 90% of known executions outside of China. The true global figure is likely much higher due to secrecy surrounding the use of the death penalty in certain countries. China is believed to have remained the world’s most prolific executioner.
Globally, the bulk of known executions in 2022 were concentrated in five countries. China topped the list with presumed thousands of executions, followed by Iran and Saudi Arabia, Egypt with 24, and the US with 18 recorded executions. The Middle East and North Africa region accounted for 93% of known global executions, excluding those in China. Notably, Saudi Arabia recorded its highest total in 30 years.
There were also positive developments from a death-penalty abolitionist perspective in 2022, the report said. Six countries—Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, and Zambia— abolished or partially abolished the death penalty for various crimes. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) also saw an unprecedented number of member states supporting the adoption of a biennial resolution calling for a moratorium on executions and the eventual abolition of the death penalty. Close to two-thirds of UN member states, including Ghana, Liberia, and Myanmar (Burma), voted in favor of the resolution.
From Jurist, May 17. Used with permission.
Note: Burma, despite votiing for the UNGA moratorium resolution in December, actually carried out four executions in 2022, resuming the practice following a suspension of more than 30 years.