The Top 5 Countries with the Most Executions for the Year 2009

  Country Number of Executions
1 China 1000+ (estimated executions)
2 Iran 388 (known executions)
3 Iraq 120 (known executions)
4 Saudi Arabia 69 (known executions)
5 United States 52 (executions)
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 Special Report
  1. According to Amnesty International China refused to divulge exact figures on its use of the death penalty. Although media coverage is permitted in selected cases, information on the number of executions is classified as a state secret and individuals disclosing state secrets can be held criminally responsible. Amnesty International therefore does not know the exact number of executions carried out in 2009. However, evidence from previous years and current sources indicates that the figure is in the thousands. The death penalty is applicable to approximately 68 offences in China, including non-violent ones.
  2. Two more countries, Burundi and Togo, abolished the death penalty in 2009, bringing the number of countries that have removed capital punishment entirely from their laws to 95. The world is in reach of 100 countries declaring their refusal to put people to death. In Asia, there were no executions in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Mongolia and Pakistan in 2009, the first execution-free year in those countries in recent times.
  3. More than two-thirds of the countries of the world have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. While 58 countries retained the death penalty in 2009, most did not use it. Eighteen countries were known to have carried out executions, killing a total of 714 people; however, this figure does not include the thousands of executions that were likely to have taken place in China, which again refused to divulge figures on its use of the death penalty.
  4. The Middle East and North Africa region had the highest per capita rate of executions in the world: Iraq reported the highest execution rate, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Iran and Saudi Arabia both executed juvenile offenders, although the use of the death penalty against people convicted of crimes committed when they were under the age of 18 is unequivocally banned in international law. At least seven juvenile offenders were executed in 2009: 'Issa bin Muhammad 'Umar Muhammad and Sultan Bin Sulayman Bin Muslim al- Muwallad, who were both 17 at the time of the offence, were executed in Saudi Arabia on 10 May 2009. Five others were executed in Iran, all of whom were 17 at the time of the offence: Mola Gol Hassan was executed on 21 January 2009; Delara Darabi on 1 May 2009; Ali Jafari on 20 May 2009; Behnoud Shojaee on 11 October 2009 and Mosleh Zamani on 17 December 2009. Methods of execution used in 2009 included hanging (Bangladesh, Botswana, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Japan, North Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Sudan, Syria), shooting (China, Libya, Syria, Viet Nam, Yemen), beheading (Saudi Arabia), stoning (Iran), electrocution (USA) and lethal injection (China, Thailand and USA).
  5. At least 17,118 people were under sentence of death as of 31 December 2009. The true number is higher, this is a minimum figure, which is the safest that can be inferred from Amnesty International's research. Essential information, including official statistics, is unavailable for key countries such as China, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Sudan, Thailand and Viet Nam.
Top 5 facts sources:
  1. Amnesty International. (2009). Report: Death Sentences and Executions in 2009.
Tags: People, Top 5 Most, Crime & Punishment Statistics

Sources:  Amnesty International

List Notes: Data is for the year 2009. Data was gathered by Amnesty International from various sources including official statistics (where available), non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, human rights defenders, the media and field research. The figures used here are the largest that can safely be drawn from Amnesty International's research, however AI emphasizes that the true figures are significantly higher. Some states intentionally conceal death penalty proceedings, others do not keep or make available statistics on the numbers of death sentences and executions.
Countries with the Most Executions for the Year 2009

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