Death Sentences and Executions 2011 is the annual report issued by Amnesty International.
At least 20 countries were known to have carried out executions in 2011. Even including newly-independent South Sudan, this is a reduction from 2010, when 23 countries were reported to have implemented death sentences, and shows a steep decline against the figure recorded a decade ago, when 31 countries were known to have carried out executions.
At least 676 executions were known to have been carried out worldwide in 2011, an increase on the 2010 figure of at least 527 executions worldwide. The increase is largely due to a significant increase in judicial killings in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. However, the 676 figure does not include the thousands of people who were believed to have been executed in China in 2011.
CBS News posts, "Amnesty: US ranks 5th on global execution scale."
The United States was the only Western democracy that executed prisoners last year, even as an increasing number of U.S. states are moving to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International announced Monday.
America's 43 executions in 2011 ranked it fifth in the world in capital punishment, the rights group said in its annual review of worldwide death penalty trends. U.S. executions were down from 46 a year earlier.
"If you look at the company we're in globally, it's not the company we want to be in: China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq," Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, told The Associated Press.
The United States seems deeply divided on the issue.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was cheered at a Republican presidential candidates' debate last September when he defended his signature on 234 execution warrants over more than 10 years as being the "ultimate justice."
Just weeks later, young people rallied in person and online to protest the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia for the 1991 murder of a police officer. In the intervening years, key witnesses for the prosecution had recanted or changed their stories.
"I think the debate on the issue may be nearing a tipping point in this country," Nossel said. "I think we're seeing momentum at the state level, in the direction of waning support for the death penalty."
Illinois banned the death penalty last year, and Oregon adopted a moratorium on executions.
"Amnesty: Mideast executions boost 2011 global toll," is the AP coverage of the report. It's written by Peter James Spielmann, via the Boston Globe.
A surge of executions last year in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen pushed the worldwide total higher than the year before, the global anti-death penalty group Amnesty International announced Monday.
The United States remains near the top of the global list of nations carrying out executions, ranked fifth.
Although the global rate of executions has declined by about a third in the past decade, to 676 documented worldwide in 2011, some 18,750 people remained on death row at the end of the year in 20 nations, Amnesty International said in its annual review of worldwide trends.
"We do not believe that governments should be in the business of executing citizens. That's an inappropriate role for the government to play, regardless of the circumstances," Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, told The Associated Press.
Various countries subject a wide array of crimes to capital punishment, including adultery, sodomy and religious offenses such as apostasy or "treason against God" in Iran, blasphemy in Pakistan, "sorcery" in Saudi Arabia, trafficking in human bones in the Republic of Congo, and economic crimes in China including selling fake drugs or tainted foods or soliciting deceptive organ transplantation.
China executes thousands of people annually, many more than the rest of the world put together. Figures are a state secret, Amnesty International said, and it has stopped compiling them from public sources because those numbers lead to underreporting and a gross underestimate of the true total.
"Executions jump in 2011, driven by Middle East: Amnesty," from Reuters by Adrian Croft. It's via the Chicago Tribune.
The number of executions carried out around the world jumped last year, largely due to a surge in use of the death penalty in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
The rights group said at least 676 people were executed in 20 countries in 2011 compared with 527 executions in 23 countries in 2010, a 28 percent increase.
Confirmed executions in the Middle East rose by almost 50 percent last year to 558, it said in an annual report on the death penalty.
Methods of execution used around the world included beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.
However, Amnesty said China executed more people than the rest of the world put together. Data on the death penalty in China is a state secret and Amnesty International no longer publishes a figure for Chinese executions, but it said they were in the thousands.
Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary-general, said that when Amnesty was launched in 1961 only nine countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes, whereas last year only 20 countries carried out executions.
"It's a very important success story," he told Reuters, adding that the downside was that "a few countries continue to practice it in large numbers."
At least 1,923 people are known to have been sentenced to death in 63 countries in 2011, down from 2,024 in 2010, Amnesty's report said. At least 18,750 people were under sentence of death worldwide at the end of 2011, including 8,300 in Pakistan, it said.
"Map: Nations that used the death penalty last year," at the Los Angeles Times.
Most countries do not put criminals to death. Only 20 out of 198 carried out executions last year. That number has dropped by more than a third over the past decade. Many nations have abolished the death penalty and more are abolitionist in practice.
"We are determined that we will see the day when the death penalty is consigned to history," said Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International.
At least 676 people were executed across the globe last year for crimes including sorcery, sodomy and murder, according to a new annual report from the group. Executions rose steeply in the Middle East and North Africa, up almost 50% compared to the previous year.
The United States was the only Western country to carry out an execution last year, though death sentences are rarer than a decade ago. Sixteen states have now abolished capital punishment, most recently Illinois, where a lengthy campaign drew attention to errors in the criminal justice system.
Amnesty posted, "‘Don’t let those who kill turn us into murderers’." For anyone who does not know Renny Cushing's story, it's a must-read.
One warm June evening in 1988, Robert Cushing and his wife Marie were at home watching a basketball game on TV, when they were interrupted by a knock.
As the retired New Hampshire school teacher answered the front door of the house where he and Marie had raised their seven children, two shots rang out, ripping his chest apart.
He died instantly in front of his wife.
Later that night, a police officer broke the news of his father’s murder to then 34-year-old Renny Cushing, who had visited his parents less than an hour before the shooting.
“For me, at that moment, thinking about what you do in the aftermath of murder stopped being an intellectual exercise and became part of my life,” says Renny Cushing, speaking to Amnesty International from the house where his father was murdered. Renny now lives there with his wife and three daughters.
For some, the instinct after losing a loved one to murder might be to want to see the perpetrators executed.
But since his father's death, Renny Cushing has become a leading voice against the death penalty, travelling throughout the USA. and Asia speaking with and on behalf of victims who oppose capital punishment.
AIUSA also posted, "The Death Penalty In 2011: Three Things You Should Know," by Brian Evans.
Every year around this time, Amnesty International releases its annual survey of capital punishment worldwide.
As in previous years, the report – Death Sentences and Execution 2011 – shows that support for executions continued to diminish, and that the U.S. is in the wrong company but moving in the right direction. There are three main takeaways from this years report.
1. Globally, the use of the death penalty remained in decline. At the end of 2011 there were 140 countries considered abolitionist in law or practice (it’s now 141 with the addition of Mongolia), while only 20 countries were known to have put prisoners to death. Only in the tumultuous Middle East was there an increase in executions.
2. The United States stayed in its dubiously bad place on this fundamental human rights issue. The U.S. was the only country in the Western hemisphere or the G8 to kill its prisoners, and was responsible for the fifth most known executions in the world, behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. (As an independent country, Texas would have ranked 7th, between North Korea and Somalia, with its 13 executions in 2011.)
3. On the other hand, there were unmistakable signs of a substantially reduced enthusiasm for the death penalty in the U.S. In March, Illinois become the 16th state to abolish the death penalty, and in November, Oregon’s Governor declared a moratorium on executions. Nationwide, executions were down slightly (43 compared to 46 in 2010), and death sentences were way down (78 compared to 104 in 2010 and 158 on 2001). The execution of Troy Davis in September was accompanied by an unprecedented outpouring of opposition, and a Gallup poll showed support for the death penalty at its lowest ebb since 1972.