A decrease in the number of countries with the death penalty worldwide, despite an increase in executions



By World Coalition against the death penalty , on 20 June 2024

On 29 May 2024, Amnesty International published its annual report on the state of the death penalty worldwide. Amnesty International’s monitoring shows that in 2023 the lowest number of countries on record carried out the highest number of known executions in close to a decade.

Notables progress in 2023:

These figures confirm trends of recent years that pointed to the ever-increasing isolation of retentionist countries.

Close to three quarters of the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice. As of 31 December 2023, the numbers were as follows: Abolitionist for all crimes: 112 Abolitionist for ordinary crimes only: 9 Abolitionist in practice: 23 Total abolitionist in law or practice: 144 Retentionist: 55.

In Asia, Malaysia repealed the mandatory death penalty for all offences and reduced the scope of this punishment; Pakistan abolished the death penalty for drug related offences; and the authorities of Sri Lanka affirmed their intention not to carry out execution.

In July, the Parliament of Ghana from the Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960 and the Armed Forces Act 1962 in favor of two bills that removed the death penalty. In Kenya, four bills to abolish the death penalty were introduced in Parliament between August and September. In Zimbabwe, a bill to abolish the death penalty in the country was gazetted in December.

Progress for 2024:

Amnesty International recorded 1,153 executions in 2023, an increase by 31% (270) from the 883 known executions in 2022.

The surge in recorded executions was largely attributable to an alarming spike in executions for drug-related offences in Iran, driven by the complete disregard on the part of the authorities for international restrictions on the use of the death penalty.

The known totals do not include the thousands of people believed to have been executed in China, which in 2023 remained the world’s lead executioner. Because of this, the global total presented in this report constitutes a minimum figure that only partially describes the true extent of states’ resort to executions during the year.

Rises in known executions were also recorded, most notably, in the USA: from 18 in 2022 to 24 in 2023.

While international human rights law prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” (crimes involving intentional killing), at least five countries – China, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Singapore – carried out executions for drug-related offences The community of nations has adopted four international treaties providing for the abolition of the death penalty.

Attached documents


Amnesty International – Global Report : death sentences and executions 2023

on 29 May 2024


NGO report

Trend Towards Abolition

More details See the document

Amnesty International’s monitoring of the global use of the death penalty recorded 1,153 known executions in 2023, an increase by 31% from 883 in 2022. However, there was a significant decrease in executing countries, from 20 in 2022 to 16 in 2023.

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