Amnesty: Executions worldwide increased by 53% in 2022, rose in Iran, Saudi Arabia

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Executions worldwide increased by 53% in 2022 from a year earlier, with a significant rise in Iran and Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said in an annual report Tuesday that also criticized Indonesia as having one of the highest numbers of new death sentences in Asia.

Amnesty said 70% of the executions in the Middle East and North Africa were carried out in Iran, where their numbers rose by 83% from 314 in 2021 to 576 in 2022. The number of executions in Saudi Arabia tripled from 65 in 2021 to 196 in 2022.

Notable increases compared to 2021 were also recorded in Kuwait, Myanmar, the Palestinian territories, Singapore and the United States, it said. In all, 20 countries are known to have executed a total of 883 people, compared to 579 in 18 countries in 2021.

Secrecy and restrictive state practices continued to impair an accurate assessment of the use of the death penalty in several countries, including China, North Korea and Vietnam, it said.

The group said 94% of 112 new death sentences in Indonesia in 2022 were based on drug-related offenses that are categorized as crimes that did not involve intentional killing, and therefore did not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” under international law.

Amnesty recorded at least 169 people sentenced to death in Bangladesh, the highest rate in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by India with 165 and Pakistan with 127.

Indonesia has the death penalty for crimes such as murder, terrorism and drug trafficking, which it carries out by firing squad. Its last executions were in July 2016 when three Nigerians and one Indonesian convicted of drug offenses were shot on the Nusa Kambangan prison island.

There are currently more than 450 death row inmates in Indonesia, with convicted drug traffickers accounting for around 60%, including 88 foreign nationals from 18 countries.

According to the report, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Singapore carried out at least 325 executions in total for drug-related offenses, more than double the number recorded in 2021.

Amnesty said the number of countries that abolished the death penalty last year reached 112, including Papua New Guinea, Indonesia’s neighbor. In Malaysia, took steps toward reforming the mandatory death sentences.