Today is World Day against the Death Penalty. China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia rank first in terms of executions. Compared to 2016, the number of executions dropped by 4 per cent. Worldwide, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
Paris (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The death penalty is still applied in 23 countries around the world, from the United States and Belarus to Cameroon and Lebanon, this according to the latest report by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, an alliance of more than 150 human rights NGOs, bar associations, trade unions and local and regional authorities fighting worldwide for the abolition of the death penalty.
The report, which coincides with the 16th World Day Against the Death Penalty, notes that at least 993 people were killed in 2017 and another 2.591 were sentenced to death in 53 countries, figures that reflect only known cases because they exclude executions carried out in China, where such data are treated as a state secret.
According to the research, the top five executioners were China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
In all, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice: 107 have eliminated it for all crimes; seven for all but extraordinary crimes, like those committed in wartime; 28 have not executed anyone in at least 10 years.
The advocacy group emphasises that the conditions to which prisoners are subjected are degrading and take away their human dignity.
In the United States, in states like Texas and California, inmates can be locked up in solitary confinement for up to 22 hours a day. In Japan prisoners cannot move outside their cells and are not allowed to do physical activity.
In Pakistan, death row inmates are allowed out of their cell for an hour and are usually held in three-metre long death cells. In Vietnam, inmates are bound to chains and are released for only 15 minutes a day, just enough time to wash themselves.
In Bangladesh, which still hangs people convicted of crimes against children or committed in the country’s war of Liberation, a bill was presented to Parliament two days ago to apply the death penalty to drug traffickers.
According to Amnesty International, which is part of the Coalition, executions have dropped by 4 per cent compared to 2016 and by 39 per cent compared to 2015. However, capital punishment is being applied in terrorism-related cases on the basis of biased legal proceedings.
Among other associations involved in the campaign, the Community of Sant'Egidio (Italy) has opposed the death penalty by promoting visits to death rows in the United States, Indonesia and several African countries.