Death Sentences and Executions in 2017
Amnesty International’s research points to a further decrease in the global use of the death penalty in 2017, down from the high peaks recorded for total executions in 2015 and death sentences in 2016. The number of countries carrying out executions and imposing death sentences remained in line with figures recorded in recent years. Two countries abolished the death penalty for all crimes and a third country became abolitionist for ordinary crimes such as murder. Several other countries took steps to restrict the use of this punishment. At the end of 2017, 106 countries had abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes and 142 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
These figures reaffirm, once again, the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty. Only an isolated minority of countries continue to resort to executions. Just four countries were responsible for 84% of all recorded executions in 2017.
Africa, future abolitionist continent
This positive trend was exemplified by the sub-Saharan Africa region, where Amnesty International recorded a drop in the number of executing countries, from five in 2016 to two in 2017, and saw a significant decrease in the number of death sentences imposed. Additionally, Guinea abolished the death penalty for all crimes and Kenya abolished the mandatory death penalty for murder. The number of abolitionist countries in the region now stands at 20, from just one in 1981 when the first country abolished this punishment.
Trend toward abolition of the mandatory death penalty for drug offences
Amnesty International recorded a noticeable decrease in the overall number of executions carried out for drug -related offences. Additionally, Iran and Malaysia – two staunch supporters of the use of the death penalty for drug – related offences – adopted legislative amendments that could reduce the use of the mandatory death penalty for these offences.
These important developments confirmed that the world has passed a tipping point and that the abolition of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is within reach.