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Iran One of Top Five Countries with Most Executions Globally

Amnesty International released its figures for the global use of the death penalty. Within the facts and figures emerge some key realities regarding human rights.

One of the first key points is that the most executions in 2016 took place in China, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan. It is interesting to note that these countries have all been the focus of human rights abuses as well. While China topped the list, the actual extent of its use is considered a state secret and estimates put the actual number into the thousands.

Once China is excluded from the figures though, 87% of all executions took place in just four countries, namely Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan. Amnesty International also recorded 3,117 death sentences in 55 countries in 2016, which is a significant increase from 2015. However, some the increase can be attributed to more accurate information being provided by various countries.

Iran also is one of two countries that held public executions, with North Korea being the other one. Reports also indicate that at least two people who were under 18 at the time of their crime were executed in Iran during 2016.

It is also important to note that in many countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the proceedings did not meet the international fair trial standards. This includes the extraction of confessions, in some cases through the use of torture or other ill-treatment.

In the Middle East, Iran alone accounted for 66% of all recorded executions in the region. The overall number of executions carried out in Iran, however, dropped by 42% (from at least 977 to at least 567) compared to the previous year. However, executions are continuing at a high rate in Iran, despite international calls for a moratorium on executions within the country.

What is most concerning in Iran is that a vast majority of the executions are related to drug offenses and non-violent crimes. Recent death sentences were handed out for “crimes against God” and “insulting God”, which are vague laws that can encompass a large number of crimes.

It is interesting to note that executions within the Middle East have gone down, despite the fact that three of the top countries on the list are located within the region.

According to a report from the Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security, 429 prisoners were executed between August 2013 and June 2016. Only China and Iran executed more people during that same period.


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