Death penalty statistics, country by country


Amnesty International executions around the world View larger picture

Amnesty International data on executions around the world. Click image to enlarge

After the execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle, the brutality of North Korea’s regime has once again come under the international spotlight. In a broader context, is the attention warranted? Find out who uses the death penalty today – and see how it compares to 2007

Once a key figure in the North Korean regime, Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of supreme leader Kim Jong-un, has been executed according to an announcement from state media. The former protector of the country’s elite joins 105 other individuals to have been executed between 2007 and 2012 according to Amnesty International figures.

The decision comes in the same week that two men were hanged in Japan, sparking renewed controversy about the country’s ‘secret’ executions. On Tuesday, a Bangladeshi supreme court postponed the execution of an opposition leader in order to review the case. Japan and Bangladesh are each estimated to have executed 33 and 28 individuals respectively in the five years to 2012.

Despite more countries abolishing the death penalty, its practice remains commonplace.

China, together with Iran, North Korea, Yemen and the US (the only G7 country to still execute people) carried out the most executions last year. Excluding China, the report says:

At least 1,722 people were sentenced to death in 58 countries in 2012. This is a decrease from 2011, when at least 1,923 people were known to have been sentenced in 63 countries worldwide, and a reduction for the second year running (2010: 2,024 death sentences in 67 countries).

Meanwhile, Latvia abolished the death penalty, meaning that there are nearly five times as many countries not executing prisoners as those that do in 2012.


Setting China aside, Amnesty said at least 680 executions were carried out last year – up by four on the previous year. Half of those took place in Iran (314). Iraq executed 129, Saudi Arabia 79 and the US 43. The minimum number of executions was down from at least 712 in 2009.

The Middle East saw 557 executions in six countries – the vast majority of the list. In Tunisia, 125 people on death row had their sentence commuted to life by the transitional government.

Methods of execution included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and various kinds of shooting (by firing squad, and at close range to the heart or the head). Public executions were known to have been carried out in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Somalia. In Saudi Arabia, executions are usually beheadings with a sword. In one case recorded by Amnesty, a Sudanese man’s head was sewn back onto his body and hung from a pole in a
public place.

Amnesty has given us the data, right back to 2007. You can download it below.

10 countries with the most executions

Death penalty around the world

Click heading to sort

Total executed, 2007-12
Total sentenced to death, 2007-12
IRAN 1,663 156
IRAQ 256 1,420
PAKISTAN 171 1,497
YEMEN 152 109
VIETNAM 58 258
LIBYA 39 0


Download the data

DATA: download the full spreadsheet

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