FILE PHOTO: An execution chamber (Jenevieve Robbins/Reuters)
An Amnesty International report has shown a rise in the amount of people sentenced to death worldwide.
Governments punishing crime and “terrorism” with capital punishment is responsible for a 28% rise in death sentences worldwide, a report released by Amnesty International said today.
The number of death sentences climbed from 1,925 in 2013 to 2,466 last year, an increase amnesty attributed to states seeking to tackle crime, terrorism and internal stability.
Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues, Amnesty International said, ”If we look at the increase in death sentences, a lot of that is explained by Egypt and Nigeria; two countries where death sentences rose sharply during the year. In Nigeria, death sentences were for murder or aggravated robbery, but some were against soldiers accused of mutiny in the context of the conflict with Boko Haram and obviously the death sentences in Egypt. The mass death sentences, were widely reported in 2014,”
In 2014, an Egyptian court sentenced more than 500 members of the outlawed Muslim brotherhood group to death, in what has become the largest mass death sentence in modern history.
Nigeria imposed 659 sentences last year, with some used to prosecute soldiers who had refused to participate in fighting militants Boko Haram.
“Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in December in response to the massacre of 141 people in a Peshawar school; hanging several militants believed to be responsible for the attack,” said Gaughran.
However over the course of past year the number of people confirmed to have been executed globally dropped by 22%, falling to 607 from 778 in 2013.
Amnesty notes, this figure excludes China, which keeps death penalty statistics secret, but is believed to execute thousands of people each year.
Similarly, many executions are thought to have taken place in secret in North Korea.
Amnesty’s report said that China was the worst offender worldwide.
Gaughran added, ”We haven’t published figures on China since 2009; rather what we decided to do was challenge the government of China each year. Tell the world how many people you are executing and how many people you’re sentencing to death.”
Gaughran condemned governments using capital punishment as a deterrent for crime.
”The death penalty is not a deterrent to crime and terrorism. There is no evidence to support that contention. In fact, studies by the UN and studies done across different regions in the world show that the death penalty is no more of a deterrent than terms of imprisonment. So governments using that line, that the death penalty is a deterrent, are deceiving the public.”
140 countries including the Philippines have so far abolished capital punishment, with others looking set to follow in 2015.
Gaughran said that amnesty is moving closer to their goal of ending the death penalty. (RAY CONSOLACION/UNTV News)