10th October 2009 is the annual ‘World Day Against the Death Penalty.’

It’s a hot topic of debate around the world both with staunch supporters for and strong opposition against. The number of countries currently supporting the death sentence is below 25% and appears to be falling. China has by far the largest figures for execution but the exact number is considered a state secret, this being a familiar trend – although some countries are transparent most are not. Information therefore with regards to exact statistics is unknown and estimates can only be gained in an unofficial capacity some more reliable than others – inside reports from families, witnesses, government mediators and informers, lawyers, victims, various political and medical documents, publications, news and social media phone cameras internet sites and so on. Where the number of executions is unofficial a minimum figure has been used with a + sign. The figures used here are from amnesty.org and handsoffcain.org

1)    Of the world’s population over 60% live in a country with Capital Punishment

2)    In 2008, 26 countries carried out between an estimated 2,393+ executions.

3)    The 5 countries with the highest execution rate and making up 94% of all executions  in 2008 were

  • China 1,718+
  • Iran 346+
  • Saudi Arabia 102+
  • USA 37
  • Pakistan 36+

4)    The methods of execution currently in use are: Beheading – Electrocution – Hanging – Gas Chamber – Stoning – Firing Squad – Shooting – Lethal Injection

Methods of execution the process and who authorizes their use.

5)    With regards to the use of the death penalty countries & territories are categorized into 4 groups:

  • Abolitionist for all crimes – no death penalty by law applies in 95 countries. See List
  • Abolitionist for ordinary crimes – the death penalty may only be considered in exceptional cases applies to 10 countries. See List
  • Abolitionist in practice also known as ‘de facto abolitionist’ – the death penalty is retained in law but no executions have been carried out in the past 10 years, applicable in 35 countries. See List
  • Retentionist – the death penalty is practiced as part of common law and applied in 45 countries. See List

6)    Of the 45 retentionist countries 36 are dictatorial, authoritarian or illiberal states. Of the 10 remaining all are considered liberal democracies including the 6 who carried out executions in 2008 – USA, Japan, Indonesia, Botswana, St Kitts & Nevis and Mongolia.

7)    Some of the most recent moves towards the abolition of capital punishment have been:

  • Japan – on Sept 17, 2009 Capital Punishment was effectively suspended by the newly appointed Minister of Justice Keiko Chiba.
  • Kenya – Aug 03, 09 President Mwai Kibaki commuted all 4000 death sentences in the country to life in prison.
  • Uganda – in January 09 Uganda ruled that all death sentences should be commuted to life.
  • Lagos – Aug 09 commuted all death sentences to life.
  • Countries that abolished the death penalty in 2009 Burundi, Kazakhstan and Togo

8)    Some recent moves away from abolition:

  • St Kitts & Nevis did not carry out any executions for 10 years prior to 2008.
  • Thailand had not executed anyone for 6 years until Aug 24, 2009.

9)    After the handover from British rule to the People’s Republic of China in 1997 Hong Kong & Macau maintained their own legal systems which do not support the death penalty

10) The only country to carry out Capital Punishment in Europe is Belarus they consider the number of executions to be a state secret but it is known that at least 4 were carried out in 2008. The condemned are shot in the back of the head, no information is given to the prisoner or families with regards to the date of the killing – families are informed afterwards to collect belongings and the whereabouts of the bodies remains confidential to officials.

Chart showing all Retentionist countries and executions carried out in 2008 + population figures.

Chart showing retentionist countries last execution.

see also quotes in support of DP and quotes against the DP

Sources: reprieve.org.uk  stopchildexecutions.com  Wikipedia.org  Geography.about.com  stop-stoning.com  deathpenaltyinfo.org


The following 95 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

This list is by continent for ease of reference and each country has the year of abolition next to their name.

AFRICA [15]

Angola 92Burundi 09Cape Verdi 81Cote d’Ivoire 00, Djibouti 95, Guinea-Bissau 93, Mauritius 95, Mozambique 90, Namibia 90,Rwanda 07, Sao Tome & Principe 90, Senegal 04, Seychelles 93, South Africa 95, Togo 09.

ASIA [10] – Armenia 03, Azerbaijan 98, Bhutan 04, Cambodia 89, Georgia 06, Nepal 97, Philippines 06, Timor-Leste [East Timor] 99,Turkmenistan 99, Uzbekistan 08.

EUROPE [43] – Albania 07, Andorra 90, Austria 68, Belgium 96, Bosnia & Herzegovina 95, Bulgaria, 98, Croatia 90, Cyprus 02, Czech Republic 90, Denmark 78, Estonia 98, Finland 49, France 81, Germany 87, Greece 01, Hungary 90, Iceland 28, Ireland 90, Italy 94, Liechtenstein 87, Lithuania 98, Luxemburg 79, Macedonia 91, Malta 00, Moldova 95, Monaco 62, Montenegro 95, Netherlands 82, Norway 79, Poland 97, Portugal 1867, Romania 90, San Merino 1865, Serbia 95 + Kosovo, Slovakia 90, Slovenia 89, Spain 95, Sweden 72, Switzerland 92, Turkey 04, Ukraine 00, United Kingdom 03, Vatican City [Holy See – not in UN] 69

NORTH AMERICA  [9] Bermuda 00, Canada 98, Costa Rica 1877, Dominican Republic 66, Haiti 87, Honduras 56, Mexico 05, Nicaragua 79, Panama 03,

SOUTH AMERICA [6] Argentina 84, Columbia 91, Ecuador 06, Paraguay 92, Uruguay 07, Venezuela 63.

OCEANIA [12] – Australia 85, Cook Islands 07, Kiribati 79, Marshall Islands 86, Micronesia 86, New Zealand 89, Palau 94, Samoa 04, Solomon Islands 78,Tuvalu 78, Vanuatu 80. [Niue not in UN]

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The death penalty may only be considered in exceptional cases applies to 10 countries.

ASIA [3] – Israel 54, Kazakhstan 09, Kyrgyzstan 07,

Europe – Latvia 99

North America – El Salvador 83

Oceania – Fiji 79

South America [4] – Bolivia 97, Brazil 78, Chile 01, Peru 79

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Abolitionist in practice

October 6, 2009

List of ‘de facto’ countries

AFRICA [22] – Algeria 93, Benin 87, Burkina Faso 88,Cameroon 97, Central African Republic 81, Republic of Congo 82, Eritrea 89, Gabon 81, Gambia 81, Ghana 93, Kenya 87, Liberia 95, Madagascar 58, Malawi 92, Mali 80, Mauritania 87, Morocco 93, Niger 76 Swaziland 83,Tanzania 94, Tunisia 91, Zambia 97.

ASIA [7] – Brunei 57, Laos 89 Maldives 52, Myanmar [Burma] 93 South Korea 97, Sri Lanka 76, Tajikistan 04

NORTH AMERICA [1] Grenada 78,

SOUTH AMERICA [1] – Suriname 87

OCEANIA [3] – Nauru 68, Papua New Guinea 54, Tonga 82.

EUROPE [1] – Russian Federation 97.

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The death penalty is retained in 45 countries out of the 192 that are in the UN.

AFRICA [16] Botswana 08, Comoros 97, Democratic Republic of Congo 03, Chad 03, Egypt 08, Equatorial Guinea 07, Ethiopia 07, Guinea 01, Lesotho 84, Libya 08, Nigeria 02,  Sierra Leone 98, Somalia 08, Sudan 09, Uganda 03, Zimbabwe 03.

ASIA [27] – Afghanistan 08, Bahrain 08, Bangladesh 09, China 09, India 04, Indonesia 08, Iran 09, Iraq 08, Japan 09, Jordan 05, North Korea 08, Kuwait 07, Lebanon 04, Malaysia 08, Mongolia 08, Oman 01, Pakistan 08, Palestinian Authority 05 [not in UN], Qatar 01, Saudi Arabia 09, Singapore 09, Syria 08, Taiwan 05, Thailand 09, United Arab Emirates 08, Vietnam 09, Yemen 09.

EUROPE [1] – Belarus 08

NORTH AMERICA [13] – Antigua & Barbuda 91, Bahamas 00, Barbados 84,Belize 85, Cuba 03, Dominica 86, Guatemala 00, Jamaica 88, Saint Kitts & Nevis 08, Saint Lucia 95, Saint Vincent & Grenadines 95, Trinidad & Tobago 99, United States 09.

SOUTH AMERICA [1] – Guyana 97

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Population

Countries that executed in 2008

Number of known executions

Death Sentences in 2008

Asia
28,150,000 Afghanistan 17+ 131
791,000 Bahrain 1
162,221,000 Bangladesh 5 185+
1,333,140,000 China 1,718+ 7003+
229,965,000 Indonesia 10 10+
74,196,000 Iran 346+ +
30,747,000 Iraq 34+ 285+
127,590,000 Japan 15 27
27,468,000 Malaysia 1+ 22+
2,671,000 Mongolia 1+
24,051,706 North Korea 15+ +
167,514,500 Pakistan 36+ 236+
25,721,000 Saudi Arabia 102+ +
4,839,400 Singapore 1+ 5
21,906,000 Syria 1+ 7+
4,599,000 United Arab Emirates 1+
85,789,573 Vietnam 19+ 59+
23,580,000 Yemen 13+ +

TOTAL – 2,374,940,179

TOTAL – 2,336 TOTAL – 7,970

Africa
1,950,000 Botswana 1 4
77,226,737 Egypt 2+ 87+
6,420,000 Libya 8 +
9,133,000 Somalia 3+
42,272,000 Sudan 1+ 60

TOTAL -137,001,737

TOTAL – 15 TOTAL – 151
Americas
52,000 St Kitts & Nevis 1 1+
307,465,000 United States of America 37 111+

TOTAL – 307,517,000

TOTAL – 38 TOTAL – 112
Europe
TOTAL –  9,671,900 Belarus TOTAL – 4 TOTAL – 1

Total of Collective Population

2,829,130,816

TOTAL – 26 Countries 2,393 executions 8,234 death sentences

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Population

Countries with no executions in 2008

Last known  execution

Death sentences imposed in 2008

Asia
1,169,340,000 India 2004 70+
6,316,000 Jordan 2005 14+
4,224,000 Lebanon 2004
2,985,000 Kuwait 2007 6+
2,845,000 Oman 2001
[est:3.9million] Palestinian Authority 2005
1,409,000 Qatar 2001
23,069,345 Taiwan 2005 8+
67,764,730 Thailand 2002 – 2009 3

TOTAL 1,277,953,075

Africa
11,206,000 Chad 2003 12+
66,020,000 Democratic Rep of Congo 2003 50+
79,277,000 Ethiopia 2007 39
676,000 Equatorial Guinea 2007 3
10,069,000 Guinea 2001
154,729,000 Nigeria 2002 40+
32,710,000 Uganda 1999/2003 114
12,523,000 Zimbabwe 2003

TOTAL – 367,210,000

Americas
342,000 Bahamas 2000 1+
11,204,000 Cuba 2003
14,027,000 Guatemala 2000/2007

TOTAL – 25,573,000

TOTAL – 360

Total of Collective Population

1,670,736,075

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