Global executions fall to 37 per cent – Amnesty International Report
By Iddi Yire/Mohammed Abdul Rashid, GNA
Accra, April 12, GNA – Amnesty International (AI), a human rights organisation, says the number of executions recorded in 2016 worldwide fell by 37 per cent from the 2015 figure.
The report, dubbed: “Amnesty International Global Report: Death Sentences and Executions 2016,” said at least 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries in 2016.
In 2015 Amnesty International recorded 1,634 executions in 25 countries worldwide – a historical spike unmatched since 1989.
The report, which was jointly launched in Accra on Wednesday by Mr Frank Doyi, the Acting Director, AI Ghana and Dr Vincent Adzahlie-Mensah, AI Board Member, indicated that most executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.
“China remained the world’s top executioner – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is considered a state secret; the global figure of at least 1,032 excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China,” it said.
The report explained that excluding China, 87 per cent of all executions took place in just four countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.
It said the use of the death penalty in Sub-Saharan Africa was mixed; whilst fewer executions were recorded, the number of death sentences logged rose by 145 per cent.
It noted that at least 22 executions were carried out in five countries compared to 43 executions in four countries in 2015.
“Death sentences rose from 443 in 2015 to at least 1,086 in 2016, mainly due to an increase in Nigeria (from 171 to 527) which handed down more death sentences this year than any other country except China,” the report said.
Mr Doyi said: “The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice.”
He called on government to expedite action on the review of the 1992 Constitution to amend articles 3 (3) and 13 (1) of the 1992 Constitution to remove the mandatory death sentence for persons convicted of high treason and to prohibit the execution of the citizens by the state.
Dr Adzahlie-Mensah, however, said government’s white paper on the Constitution Review report backs the abolishment of the death penalty in Ghana.
He, therefore, appealed to government to ensure that a referendum was held to approve the appropriate constitutional amendments.
It said during 2016, 23 countries were known to have carried out executions adding that the number had decreased significantly.
The report said Belarus, Botswana, Nigeria and authorities within the State of Palestine resumed executions in 2016; declaring that “Chad, India, Jordan, Oman and United Arab Emirates –all countries that executed people in 2015 – did not report any executions last year”.
The report noted that 141 countries worldwide, more than two-thirds, were abolitionist in law or practice.
It said in 2016, two countries – Benin and Nauru– abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes; adding that commutations or pardons of death sentences were recorded in 28 countries in 2016.
The report said at least 18,848 people were on death row at the end of 2016; citing beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting as some of the methods of execution.
It said for the eighth consecutive year, the US was the only country to carry out executions in the Americas region with 20 people executed in 2016 (eight fewer than in 2015).
It said the number of executions recorded in the Middle East and North Africa decreased by 28 per cent as against the previous year, from 1,196 executions in 2015 to 856 in 2016.