Death Penalty: Amnesty International recorded 579 executions in 18 countries in 2021, an increase of 20% from the 483 recorded in 2020. This figure represents the second lowest number of executions recorded by Amnesty International since at least 2010.
Most known executions took place in China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria – in that order.
China remained the world’s leading executioner – but the true extent of its use of the death penalty is unknown as this data is classified as a state secret; the global figures for executions and death sentences therefore exclude the thousands of people that Amnesty International believes to have been sentenced to death and executed in China.
Amnesty International recorded 24 women among the 579 people known to have been executed in 2021 (4%), in the following countries: Egypt (8), Iran (14), Saudi Arabia (1) and USA (1).
Belarus, Japan and UAE resumed executions. Amnesty International did not record any executions in India, Qatar and Taiwan, having done so in 2020.
Iran executed at least 314 people (up from at least 246 in 2020), their highest number of executions since 2017, reversing year-on-year declines since then.
Recorded executions in Saudi Arabia rose sharply, from 27 to 65, an increase of 140% percent.
Despite these increases, the 2021 global executions figure constitutes the second-lowest figure recorded by Amnesty International since at least 2010. For the second consecutive year, the number of countries known to have executed people was the lowest the organization has recorded. In 2019, 2020 and 2021 Amnesty International recorded 657, 483 and 579 executions respectively.
Amnesty International recorded commutations or pardons of death sentences in 19 countries: Bangladesh, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, UAE, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The number of executions in Sub-Saharan Africa, recorded in 3 countries, more than doubled to 33, as a result of rises in Somalia and South Sudan. The other country to carry out executions was Botswana.
At least 373 new death sentences were handed down in 19 countries, an increase of 22%, due to sharp rises in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mauritania, and despite a significant drop in Zambia.
In July, Sierra Leone’s parliament unanimously adopted an Act which abolishes the death penalty for all crimes. In Central African Republic and Ghana, legislative processes to abolish the death penalty were started and remain ongoing.
At least 5,843 people were held under a sentence of death, with Nigeria holding 52% of them (at least 3,036)