Wednesday, March 25, 2009

China skews death penalty report

An interesting report in the New York Times today says that executions around the world doubled in 2008.
That is pretty surprising considering that we have really scaled back on executions here in the U.S., but it turns out the main culprit behind the jump in executions was China which had 72 percent of the total for 2008.

The number of executions worldwide nearly doubled last year compared with 2007, according to Amnesty International, and China put to death far more people than the rest of the world put together.
In its annual report on the death penalty, Amnesty International on Tuesday chronicled beheadings in Saudi Arabia; hangings in Japan, Iraq, Singapore and Sudan; lethal injections in China; an electrocution in the United States; firing squads in Afghanistan, Belarus and Vietnam; and stonings in Iran.
In all, 59 countries still have the death penalty on their books, but only 25 carried out executions last year. Two nations, Uzbekistan and Argentina, banned the death penalty last year.
Amnesty International said at least 2,390 people were executed worldwide in 2008, compared with its 2007 figure of at least 1,252.
With at least 1,718, China was responsible for 72 percent of all executions in 2008, the report stated. After China were Iran (346), Saudi Arabia (102), the United States (37) and Pakistan (36), according to the group.

The U.S. only had 37 executions last year, but that was still enough to rank No. 4 in the world behind China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Frankly, I’m not happy being in the same company with those countries. There is really no reason why the U.S. can’t join with most of the Western civilized nations and ban this outdated, barbaric practice which serves no public purpose.
The good news is that Amnesty International says the worldwide trend is still going away from the death penalty even though the Butchers of Beijing are currently skewing the data.

Amnesty International, which has long opposed the death penalty, said Europe and Central Asia have become “virtually a death-penalty-free zone” with only Belarus, a former Soviet republic, continuing to execute prisoners.
“In the Americas, only one state — the United States — consistently executes,” the group said, noting that the number of its executions last year, 37, was the lowest since 1994.

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