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Amnesty report shows global decline in capital punishment

China executes the most people by far far over a thousand and perhaps thousands. Amnesty believes that China executes more people than the entire rest of the world. Much of the information regarding the application of the death penalty is regarded as “state secrets”. Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International said: “China wants to be a leader on the world stage, but when it comes to the death penalty it is leading in the worst possible way – executing more people annually than any other country in the world. The Chinese government has recognized it is a laggard in terms of openness and judicial transparency, but it persists in actively concealing the true scale of executions. It is high time for China to lift the veil on this deadly secret and finally come clean about its death penalty system.”

As a nominally communist state you would think that the Chinese Communist Party would pay some heed to Karl Marx’s view on capital punishment. Reacting to a London Times article in support of capital punishment Marx wrote: It is astonishing that the article in question does not even produce a single argument or pretext for indulging in the savage theory therein propounded; and it would be very difficult, if not altogether impossible to establish any principle upon which the justice or expediency of capital punishment could be founded in a society glorifying in its civilization. While there was a revolutionary struggle going on no doubt capital punishment could be construed as part of the class struggle and a defense against enemies of the revolution, but China now has transformed itself into a basically capitalist society with considerable state ownership of the means of production still. The Chinese euphemistically call it “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. There is no good reason why Chinese should not enjoy a level of legal rights and justice that at least matches that of advanced capitalist countries but that seems to be regarded as a threat to the monopoly power of the Chinese Communist Party.

After China, Iran had the highest level of executions although it is down considerably from last year. In 2015, 977 were executed but this year the number dropped to 567. Third in 2016 was Saudi Arabia with 154 executions. Irag was fourth with 88. Fifth was Pakistan with just 87 a huge drop from 326 in 2015. Sixth was Egypt with 44. The United States was seventh with just 20. This is the lowest US number since 1991.

There were execution in just 23 countries in 2016 that is two fewer than in 2015. There was in increase in executions in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The total number of people subject to capital punishment last year was 1,032 down from 1,634 in 2015. The decline in executions in Iran and Pakistan accounts for much of the drop..

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