Stories

Where the death penalty survives around the world

An Egyptian court has sentenced 75 people to death for their roles in the violent uprising that followed a 2013 coup, the latest in a series of flare-ups around the world concerning the death penalty.

Data: Amnesty International; Map: Kerrie Vila/Axios

The bigger picture: Worldwide, as in the U.S., fewer people are being executed in fewer places. But capital punishment remains a potent political issue.

Recent controversies...

  • In the U.K, Home Secretary Sajid Javid broke longstanding U.K. extradition policy by declining to seek an assurance the U.S. would not pursue the death penalty for two British ISIS fighters, prompting backlash.
  • In Kenya, where the last execution was conducted in 1987, a former beauty queen has been controversially sentenced to death for fatally stabbing her boyfriend.
  • In Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena has vowed to end a 42-year moratorium on capital punishment for drug smugglers, citing public demand due to rising gang violence and narcotics abuse, reports the AP. The EU and other countries have warned Sri Lanka that an end to the moratorium will prompt trade retaliation.
  • In Japan, the execution of seven members of a deadly cult has renewed questions about the transparency of the death penalty system, reports The Japan Times. Japan and the U.S. are two of the few wealthy countries that continue to use the death penalty.

By the numbers...

  • At least 993 judicial executions took place worldwide last year across 20 countries, per Amnesty International. That's a 4% drop from 2016, but doesn't include China, North Korea or Vietnam, where numbers weren't available.
  • 51% of those executions took place in Iran, with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan also carrying out upwards of 60 executions.
  • 13 countries executed people by hanging. 8 used shooting, 3 used lethal injection and 1, Saudi Arabia, used beheading.
  • 142 countries have either de jure or de facto bans on the death penalty, per Amnesty International.

Worth noting: 55% of Americans support the death penalty for those convicted of murder, per Gallup, down from 69% a decade ago.