Monday, June 24, 2024

Executions tripled in sub-Saharan Africa as global figures increase by 30%

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Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey is an experienced African journalist who has worked with top media brands in Ghana where he is based.

Recorded executions in sub-Saharan Africa tripled to 38 in 2023 as death sentences in the region increased by 66%.

A report released by Amnesty International said Somalia was the only country known to have carried out executions in the region.

The human rights watch said the sub-Saharan Africa region experienced a setback following progress made against the death penalty in the previous year.

There was a surge in both recorded executions and recorded death sentences in the region in 2023, and no country has abolished the death penalty since 2022.

“Recorded executions in sub-Saharan Africa more than tripled from 11 in 2022 to 38 in 2023, although all of them were recorded in one single country – Somalia. Despite a reduction in executing countries – from two in 2022 to one in 2023 – the 38 executions recorded was the highest total recorded in the region since 2015, while recorded death sentences increased sharply by 66%, from 298 in 2022 to 494 in 2023,” said Tigere Chagutah Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

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In Sub-Saharan Africa, Amnesty International recorded death sentences in 14 countries, two countries fewer than recorded in the previous year. Compared to 2022, there were increases in recorded death sentences in the following countries: Cameroon (0 to 1); Ethiopia (2 to 3); Ghana (7 to 10); Kenya (79 to 131); Mali (8 to 13); Niger (4 to 8); Nigeria (77 to 246); Somalia (10 to 31); and Zimbabwe (0 to 3).

“Capital punishment is irreversible and is a gross violation of human rights. Somalia and the few remaining countries in Africa that still retain the death penalty must heed the progressive regional trend and abolish the punishment once and for all,” said Tigere Chagutah.

At the end of 2023, bills to repeal this cruel punishment were pending in the parliaments of Kenya, Liberia and Zimbabwe providing renewed hope of  getting rid of the death penalty.

Global figures

Globally, a total of 1,153 known executions took place in 2023, which does not include the thousands believed to have been carried out in China, marking an increase of more than 30% from 2022.

It was the highest figure recorded by Amnesty International since 2015, when 1,634 people were known to have been executed. Despite this increase, the number of countries that carried out executions reached the lowest figure on record with Amnesty International.

The five countries with the highest number of executions in 2023 were China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the USA. Excluding China, Iran alone accounted for 74% of all recorded executions while Saudi Arabia accounted for 15%. The USA also carried out an increased number of executions in 2023.

There was a 20% increase in the number of known death sentences imposed globally in 2023, taking the total to 2,428.

State secrecy

Due to state secrecy, Amnesty’s numbers do not include the thousands of people believed to have been executed in China, which remains the world’s lead executioner. Similarly, the organization was unable to put forward figures for North Korea and Viet Nam, countries believed to resort to executions extensively.

112 countries are fully abolitionist and 144 in total have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

Executions were recorded in 16 countries, the lowest number recorded by Amnesty International. No executions were recorded in Belarus, Japan, Myanmar and South Sudan, all of which carried out executions in 2022.

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