UK: The easing of pandemic restrictions coincided with a “worrying rise” in global executions in 2021, Amnesty International said Tuesday, with Iran recording its highest number of state-sanctioned killings since 2017.
At least 579 executions were carried out across 18 countries in 2021 — a 20 percent increase on 2020, according to the rights monitor’s annual study.
Iran accounted for most of the rise as it recorded its highest total in four years, executing at least 314 people, up from 246 in 2020.
Amnesty put the increase down to drug-related executions, which it called “a flagrant violation of international law”, which only allows the death penalty for crimes involving intentional killing.
Saudi Arabia also saw a spike, more than doubling its number of executions since 2020, while around 90 people were known to have been sentenced to death under martial law in Myanmar.
“2021 saw a worrying rise in executions and death sentences as some of the world’s most prolific executioners returned to business as usual and courts were unshackled from COVID-19 restrictions,” Amnesty said in its review.
Judges handed down at least 2,052 death sentences in 56 countries, with big spikes seen in Bangladesh, India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt and Pakistan, said Amnesty.
“Instead of building on the opportunities presented by hiatuses in 2020, a minority of states demonstrated a troubling enthusiasm to choose the death penalty over effective solutions to crime, showing a callous disregard for the right to life,” said Amnesty boss Agnes Callamard.
Despite the annual rise, the total number of recorded executions in 2021 was still the second-lowest figure recorded since 2010.