DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Other than China and regardless of a worldwide drop in loss of life sentences, international locations within the Center East remained among the many world’s main executioners final 12 months, Amnesty Worldwide mentioned Wednesday.
The variety of executions worldwide plummeted to its lowest stage in over a decade, with at the least 483 individuals executed in 2020, in comparison with 657 the earlier 12 months, because the coronavirus pandemic slowed prison trials and disrupted scheduled executions.
4 states within the area — Iran, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — topped the worldwide checklist and pressed on with shootings, beheadings and hangings, ignoring pleas by rights teams to halt executions throughout the pandemic, the report mentioned.
Though counts within the nations fell in keeping with international tendencies, largely attributable to Saudi authorized reforms, the international locations carried out 88% of the world’s whole recognized executions in 2020, based on the London-based rights group that campaigns for abolition of the loss of life penalty.
The numbers present the area is “actually out of sync with the remainder of the world,” mentioned Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s director for the Center East and North Africa. “The Center East stands out as a area that adheres to using the loss of life penalty after deeply unfair trials.”
Egypt executed greater than 3 times as many condemned prisoners in 2020 because it did the 12 months earlier than, overtaking Saudi Arabia because the world’s third-most prodigious executioner, the report mentioned.
Though Iraq greater than halved the variety of individuals it put to loss of life final 12 months in comparison with 2019, primarily due to virus-induced courtroom closures, the federal government faces worldwide criticism for finishing up mass executions. Iraqi courts have grappled with hundreds of detainees suspected of being Islamic State group fighters or supporters following the militant group’s defeat on the battlefield in 2017. Final November, 21 prisoners held on terrorism-related costs had been hanged in a single day.
The area’s total 25% decline in executions was pushed by Saudi Arabia, lengthy one of many world’s most prolific executioners. In a dramatic shift, the Saudi authorities scaled again its executions final 12 months by 85%. The dominion attributed the drop to authorized reforms promoted by the nation’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. New directives halted executions for drug offenses and abolished the loss of life penalty for minors.
Amnesty’s annual country-to-country figures exclude China, the place figures, believed to be within the hundreds, are labeled as a state secret. The report additionally omits executions from some international locations marred by battle like Syria, which Morayef referred to as “one of many large black bins.”
Egypt held 107 executions final 12 months, a major enhance from the 32 recorded in 2019. Some two dozen of the executed males had been convicted on political violence costs, notably following the navy overthrow in 2013 of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the late Islamist Mohammed Morsi.
Final fall, executions soared in Egypt after unrest on loss of life row at Cairo’s infamous Tora jail, the place authorities claimed that a number of inmates tried to flee. Rights teams say navy trials for civilians and using torture to extract confessions have elevated as President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi entrenches his authoritarian rule. In response to criticism, the federal government has insisted that safety and stability are its high priorities.
Iran remained the highest executioner within the Center East, meting out at the least 246 deaths final 12 months, greater than half of the area’s whole.
The Amnesty report notably lamented Iran’s execution of juveniles, political opponents and journalists. Final December, Iran hanged dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, who launched a preferred information channel that helped spark nationwide financial protests. In one other case, Navid Afkari, a wrestler imprisoned for allegedly stabbing a person amid protests towards Iran’s theocracy in 2018, was rapidly hanged with out prior discover to his household or lawyer final fall, Amnesty mentioned.
Saudi Arabia, lengthy infamous for its public beheadings, decreased its executions as worldwide scrutiny of the dominion’s human rights document elevated, Amnesty famous. The change got here as Saudi Arabia promoted its international stature by internet hosting the Group of 20 summit final 12 months and braced for cooler relations with U.S. President Joe Biden.
Mideast international locations that had not put anybody to loss of life in years additionally did so in 2020. The sultanate of Oman reversed course by placing 4 individuals to loss of life and Qatar resumed executions for the primary time in over 20 years with the hanging of a Nepali migrant employee convicted of homicide.
By legislation or in follow, the loss of life penalty is now abolished in 144 international locations, although Amnesty expects no such change within the Center East.
“It is a reflection of the disaster of human rights,” Morayef mentioned. “Till Center East leaders begin taking the justice system severely as a substitute of simply empowering their safety companies, I concern we’re going to proceed to see these sorts of numbers.”
Isabel DeBre on Twitter: www.twitter.com/isabeldebre.