Death penalty in 2023 - Facts and figures

29 May 2024

Amnesty International Thailand

 

Global figures

Global executions

Amnesty International recorded 1153 executions in 16 countries in 2023, marking a 31% increase from the 883 recorded in 2022. This figure represents the highest number of executions that Amnesty International has recorded in close to a decade (since 2015, when 1,634 executions were recorded).

China remained the world’s leading executioner, but the true extent of its use of the death penalty remains unknown as this data remains classified as a state secret. The global figure recorded by Amnesty International excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China, as well as those carried out in Viet Nam and North Korea where Amnesty International believes the death penalty was resorted to extensively.

Most known executions took place in China (1000s), Iran (at least 853), Saudi Arabia (172), Somalia (at least 38), and the USA (24).

Women were known to have been executed in four countries: China (+), Iran (24), Saudi Arabia (6) and Singapore (1).

Amnesty International recorded executions in 16 countries, compared to 20 countries in 2022.

 

Violating international law

508 executions were recorded for drug-related offences: 481 in Iran; 1 in Kuwait, 19 in Saudi Arabia; 5 in Singapore; and in China (+*). The total number of 508 constituted for 44% of the total globally.

At least 8 public executions were recorded in Afghanistan (1+) and Iran (7).

In Iran, at least 5 people were executed for crimes that occurred when they were below 18 years of age.

No executions were recorded in Belarus, Japan, Myanmar and South Sudan, all countries that carried out executions in 2022 (20 countries in total).

The following methods of execution were used in 2023: beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

 

Global death sentences

At least 2,428 new death sentences across 52 countries were imposed in 2023, compared to at least 2,016 in 52 countries in 2022.

Amnesty International recorded commutations or pardons of death sentences in 27 countries.

Five countries — Belarus, Cameroon, Japan, Morocco/Western Sahara and Zimbabwe — imposed death sentences after a hiatus.

Amnesty International recorded at least 9 exonerations of prisoners who had been sentenced to death in three countries: Kenya (5), the USA (3), and Zimbabwe (1).

Globally, at least 27,687 people were under sentence of death at the end of 2023.

 

Abolishing the death penalty

At the end of 2023, 112 countries were fully abolitionist and 144 in total had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

 

 

Regional analysis

Americas

For the 15th consecutive year, the USA remained the only country in the region to carry out executions.

The number of executions carried out in the USA increased by 33%, rising from 18 in 2022 to 24 in 20223.

Florida carried out its first executions (6) and US federal authorities imposed their first death sentence since 2019. 

For the seventh consecutive year, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA were the onlycountries in the region that imposed new death sentences.

 

Asia-Pacific

Asia-Pacific continued to be the region with the highest number of executions in the world.

In Asia-Pacific, six countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, North Korea, Singapore and Viet Nam) are known to have carried out executions in 2023, a decrease from eight in 2022.

No executions were recorded in Japan and Myanmar, countries which executed people in 2022.

A total of 948 new death sentences were imposed in the region, based on available information, a 10% increase from 2022, when at least 861 people were known to have been sentenced to death.

Malaysia repealed the mandatory death penalty for all offences and reduced the scope of this punishment; Pakistan abolished the death penalty for drug related offences; and the authorities of Sri Lanka affirmed their intention not to carry out executions. 

 

Europe and Central Asia

Belarus remained the only country in Europe to use the death penalty, sentencing one person to death in 2023.

Russia and Tajikistan continued to observe moratoriums on executions.  

 

The Middle East and North Africa

The number of executions recorded in the Middle East and North Africa region increased by 30%, rising from 825 in 2022 to 1,073 in 2023.

Recorded death sentences also increased, from 827 in 2022 to 950 in 2023.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were the top three executing countries in the region in 2023. They accounted for 97% of all recorded executions in the region: Iran (80%), Saudi Arabia (16%) and Iraq (1%),

In total eight countries carried out executions in the region in 2023 – Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Palestine (State of), Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.

 

Sub-Saharan Africa

Recorded executions in the region more than tripled from 11 in 2022 to 38 in 2023.

All 38 executions took place in one country – Somalia.

Death sentences were recorded in 14 countries in 2023, compared to 16 in 2022. 

Recorded death sentences increased sharply by 66%, from 298 in 2022 to 494 in 2023.

Four countries (Kenya, Liberia, Zimbabwe and Ghana) took positive legislative steps towards the abolition of the death penalty. 

 

*When calculating global and regional totals, “+” has been counted as two.

ENDS

Public Document

 

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For more information, please contact:

Angela Singh, Communications Manager in London, UK  
Email: angela.singh@amnesty.org 

Tel: +44 7904 398344 

 

Amnesty International’s press office:  

Email: press@amnesty.org  

Tel: +44 20 3036 5566

 

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