Amnesty: Executions Reach Highest Total in 5 Years

    Amnesty: Executions Reach Highest Total in 5 Years
    Last updated May 16, 2023
    Image credit: AP [via Al Jazeera]


    • Amnesty International on Tuesday issued its annual report on the death penalty, revealing that the number of recorded executions in 2022 was 883 people, the most in a half-decade.[1]
    • The total is a 53% increase over 2021, with 90% of the executions performed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. However, the reported total is skewed because Amnesty couldn't report figures from China, which keeps its death penalty data classified but is believed to kill thousands annually.[2]
    • Iran committed 70% of the Middle East and North Africa’s executions at 576, an 83% increase from 314 in 2021. Saudi Arabia tripled its executions from 65 to 196, while Kuwait, Myanmar, Palestine, Singapore, and the US also saw sizable increases.[3]
    • The report also highlighted the number of people on death row for drug charges, citing that 94% of Indonesia’s 112 new death sentences involved drug-related offenses. Only the “most serious crimes,” such as intentional killings, meet the threshold for capital punishment under international law.[4]
    • A total of 20 countries executed people in 2022, and 112 countries have abolished the practice for all crimes, while nine partially banned it for ordinary crimes.[5]
    • Despite the increase, the 883 executions in 2022 were still less than the 993 in 2017 — a 4% drop from the 2016 total.[6]


    Narrative A

    The death penalty is a wickedly inhumane and evil form of punishment that is a stain on governments and humanity. Some countries are more extreme than others in the way they choose to callously murder their citizens, but the death penalty is always wrong. The state shouldn't decide who lives or dies — the death penalty must be abolished.

    Narrative B

    The death penalty is a necessary legal recourse to deal with the most heinous and depraved criminals. Not only does executing murderers and terrorists bring justice, but it also acts as a deterrent for other potentially dangerous criminals. The level of legal consideration those on death row receive is far higher than other sentences, so the death penalty should continue to be part of the legal system as it has been for millennia.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that capital punishment will be legal in at least 38.1% of US states in 2035, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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