Global executions at highest level in almost a decade, says Amnesty

Europe AP - Hossein Esmaeli
AP - Hossein Esmaeli

Executions soared to their highest level in almost a decade in 2023, the rights group Amnesty International said Wednesday as it released its annual report on the global use of the death penalty. 

A total of 1,153 executions took place last year, an increase of more than 30 percent from 2022.

This is the highest figure recorded by Amnesty since 2015, when 1,634 people were known to have been executed.

It does not include the thousands believed to have been carried out in China

“The huge spike in recorded executions was primarily down to Iran,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty's secretary general. 

Iran saw a nearly 50 percent rise, executing at least 853 people last year, compared to 576 in 2022. 

“The Iranian authorities showed complete disregard for human life and ramped up executions for drug-related offences, further highlighting the discriminatory impact of the death penalty on Iran's most marginalized and impoverished communities.” 

In the US, executions rose for the second consecutive year, from 18 to 24, all carried out by five states using lethal injections. 

Amnesty said the real number of executions was likely higher because of the classification of confidential data in countries like China, where "thousands of people" allegedly executed are not included in the calculations. 

Despite the increase in executions, the number of countries that carried them out in 2023 was the lowest on record at 16.