Global executions fell by 37 percent last year, a new report by Amnesty International has revealed.
The leading human rights watchdog has revealed that 1,032 executions were carried out in 2016 – more than 600 fewer than the 1,634 deaths in 2015.
But the figure does not include executions in China – with Amnesty International claiming that the Chinese authorities have enforced an elaborate system of secrecy designed to obscure the shocking scale of executions in the country.
In America, a historic low was reached for the first time. The country was not among the world’s five biggest executioners for the first time since 2006.
In 2016, 20 executions were carried out in America, the lowest level recorded in any year since 1991 and almost five times lower than the figure recorded in 1999.
Amnesty International claims that the sharp decrease may be directly linked to the challenges facing lethal injections – with several states struggling to source the fatal substances that are used for the executions.
Specifically, only five U.S. states, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Texas carried out executions last year.
Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, said: ‘Use of the death penalty in the USA is at its lowest since the early 1990s. But we have to fight to keep it that way. Executions could return with a vengeance in 2017. The shocking number of executions scheduled over a ten-day period in Arkansas this April is a clear example of how quickly the picture can change.
‘The steady decline in the use of the death penalty in the USA is a sign of hope for activists who have long campaigned for an end to capital punishment. The debate is clearly shifting. Politicians should steer clear of the ugly “tough on crime” rhetoric that helped drive a spike in executions in the 1980s and 1990s. The death penalty is not going to make anyone any safer.
‘The five isolated states that carried out executions last year are behind the times. Not only are they against a national trend, but also a regional one. For eight years now the USA has had the shameful distinction of being the only country in the Americas that carries out executions.’