The Death Penalty in Human Rights Watch “World Report 2020”

By Majdoulin Sendadi, on 6 February 2020

The report assesses the situation of the death penalty in several countries: Angola; Belarus; Bahrain; Egypt; India; Iran; Iraq; Japan; Libya; Malaysia; Mauritania; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; the Philippines; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; Somalia; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Syria; Uganda and the Unites States.

In 2019, Libya “released on health grounds two former Gaddafi prime ministers who a Tripoli criminal court had sentenced to death in 2015”. HRW highlighted that “[n]o death sentences have been carried out since 2010 [in Libya], although both military and civilian courts continued to pronounce them”.

Egypt sentenced to death “hundreds of individuals” in both civilian and military courts “often in mass trials in cases that stem from alleged political violence or planned violence”. In addition, authorities “executed at least 15 prisoners in three cases on political grounds. Military and civilian courts of appeal upheld at least 32 death sentences, raising the number on death row to 74”.
In Saudi Arabia the situation is critical concerning the death penalty. On 23 April “Saudi Arabia carried out a mass execution of 37 men in various parts of the country. At least 33 were from the country’s minority Shia community who had been convicted following unfair trials for various alleged crimes, including protest-related offenses, espionage, and terrorism”. Moreover, World Coalition member organization Reprieve confirmed that “[a]t least three of those executed were minors at the time of their alleged offences”. Reprieve affirmed that the government “has executed more than 100 people in the first four months of 2019”.
In July 2019, Bahrain, following the customary royal confirmation of a death sentence, executed three men “including two men convicted of terrorism offenses”.
In Iraq, the fight against terrorism continues to be the principal reason to hand down death sentences. HRW reported that “[i]n August 2019, authorities released Ministry of Justice data that showed 8022 detainees”. Furthermore, in 2018, 47 non-Iraqi foreigners, suspected of ISIS affiliation, have been transferred “to Iraq for investigation in 2018 and early 2019, including at least 11 French nationals who have been sentenced to death.”
In Iran, until November 2019 at least 227 individuals were executed. Even though the number is lower in comparison with 2017, the trend of execution is still high. Under Iranian law the death penalty does not even spare minors.