Executions increase in 2008 despite global trend away from capital punishment: report

[JURIST] At least 2,390 people were executed throughout 25 countries in 2008, according to a report [text, PDF; AI press release] released Tuesday by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website], up from the reported 1,252 executions in 2007 [AI report, PDF]. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the US account for 93 percent of all executions performed in 2008. China alone had 1,718 executions, or 72 percent of executions worldwide, amidst questions regarding fairness of trials and access to lawyers for the accused. AI also reported that there is a global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty. Two-thirds of all nations have abolished capital punishment. In the Americas, the US is the only country that carries out regular executions. Last year, the US performed the smallest number of executions since 1995 with one state, Texas, accounting for half of those executions.

The report by AI follows a second resolution [text] by the UN General Assembly [official website] calling on member states to observe a moratorium on capital punishment. Additionally, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights [advocacy website] passed a similar resolution [text] in November calling for the observation of a death penalty moratorium. In contrast, executions resumed in the US in April 2008 after the US Supreme Court lifted an effective moratorium by upholding lethal injection [JURIST reports]. The first execution following the ruling [JURIST report] was conducted in Georgia in May 2008. However, individual states such as New Jersey and New Mexico [JURIST reports] have abolished the death penalty.



 

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