Islamabad/London: Worldwide executions marked a dramatic 54 per cent rise in 2015, with Pakistan figuring among the top three countries which together carried out 90 per cent of the capital punishment, a rights body said today. Most of the executions in 2015 took place in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US – in that order, according to Amnesty International.
The trend of executions represents over 50 per cent increase in the number recorded in 2014, when 1,061 executions were carried out in 22 countries, it said.
China remained the world’s top executioner but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in the country is unknown as this data is considered a state secret, the London- based body said. Pakistan – which lifted a ban on execution after Peshawar school terror attack of December 16, 2014 – hanged 326 people out of at least 1,634 executed in 25 countries in 2015.
The total number of executions last year is the highest worldwide since 1989, Amnesty noted.
It said that excluding China, almost 90 per cent of all executions took place in just three countries including Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. India, with one execution in 2015, is also included in the list of 25 countries.
So far, 140 countries worldwide, more than two-thirds, are abolitionist in law or practice. It said that at least 1,998 death sentences were recorded in 61 countries in 2015. There were at least 20,292 people on death row at the end of 2015.
In reference to India, Amnesty said: “India carried out one execution, on 30 July, when Yakub Abdul Razak Memon was hanged at the Nagpur Central jail. He had been convicted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act 1987, a law that contains provisions incompatible with international fair trial standards, for his involvement in a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai in March 1993 which killed 257 people. “At least 75 new death sentences were imposed during the year, almost all for murder. At least four people were sentenced to death for aggravated circumstances of rape following amendments to the Criminal Code in 2013. At least 320 people remained under sentence of death at the end of 2015.”
The Amnesty analysis also highlights the Law Commission of India’s report on the death penalty published last August as a means to “contribute to a debate on the prompt abolition of the death penalty” but says it “fell short of recommending that the death penalty be abolished for all crimes and instead suggested that this punishment be retained for terrorism-related offences and waging war.”