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Death Penalty

Which countries execute people? And how do they do it?

There were 3,000 estimated executions last year.

World execution map

OVER 3,000 PEOPLE were estimated to have been executed across the world last year.

They were killed in countries from America to China to Taiwan and Belarus. They were executed over crimes ranging from treason to apostasy, sodomy and prostitution.

Across the world, the death penalty is still legal in 90 countries and two territories. In 2013, 21 countries used various methods of executions to kill people found guilty of crimes. Other countries, as the map shows, use the death penalty as a last resort in multiple murder, terrorism and treason cases.

The numbers

The leading executor of people in the world is China, which put an estimated 3,000 people to death last year in what Amnesty International calls the “ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights”.

With China the world’s most prolific executioner, it’s difficult to know exactly how many people were executed in 2014, but in 2013, at least 778 people were killed in the rest of the world.

Iran is the next highest on the list, killing 721 people last year, Saudi Arabia killed 87, Iraq 60 and the US rounds out the top five, putting 35 people to death.

The methods

When it was announced earlier this week that two Australian drug smugglers would face death by firing squad in Indonesia, eyebrows were raised.

However, the seemingly outdated and cruel method is still used in many countries. In the US, of the 33 states that have the death penalty, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Utah still allow the method as a backup to lethal injection. In 2010, double murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner was killed by firing squad, per his request.

America also uses the gas chamber and electric chair as secondary methods.

Palestine, which killed 27 prisoners, also uses firing squad, as do Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and China. Those countries all use hanging as well, along with Japan and Jordan.

Saudi Arabia uses beheading, stoning and in one case in 2013, crucifixion.

China is the only country outside the States to use the lethal injection method.

The trend

Amnesty International argues that they want to “end the cycle of violence created by a system riddled with economic and racial bias and tainted by human error” and, in many ways, the campaign and others like it are succeeding.

A decade ago, 28 countries carried out executions. Last year, that was down to 21.

In the US, six states – New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland – have abolished capital punishment in the last decade, joining 11 states who did so between 1846 and 1984.

Read: Working to exonerate innocent people in American prisons

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