The Top 5 Countries with the Most Executions for the Year 2008

  Country Number of Executions
1 China 1,718 (known executions)
2 Iran 346 (known executions)
3 Saudi Arabia 102 (known executions)
4 United States 37 (total executions)
5 Pakistan 36 (known executions)
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 Special Report
  1. According to the Amnesty International report 59 countries retain the death penalty, however more than two-thirds of the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty either in law or in practice for example Europe and Central Asia is now virtually a death penalty free zone following the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan for all crimes. There is just one country left - Belarus - that still carries out executions. In the Americas, only one state - the United States of America (USA) - consistently executes. However, even the USA moved away from the death penalty in 2008. This year, the smallest number of executions since 1994 was reported in the USA.
  2. In 2008, at least 2,390 people were known to have been executed in 25 countries and at least 8,864 people were sentenced to death in 52 countries around the world. Some of the methods used to carry out executions in 2008 included beheading (Saudi Arabia), hanging (Bangladesh, Botswana, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, St. Kitts & Nevis, Singapore, Sudan) lethal injection (China, USA), shooting (Afghanistan, Belarus, China, Indonesia, Iran, Mongolia, Viet Nam), stoning (Iran) and electrocution (USA).
  3. In 2008 China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States of America were the five states with the highest rate of executions. Together they carried out (93%) of all executions worldwide.
  4. More people were executed in Asia in 2008 than in the rest of the world put together. At least 1,838 (76%) of all total reported executions were carried out by Asian states. In China, at least 1,718 people were executed and at least 7,003 people were known to have been sentenced to death in 2008. These figures represent minimum estimates as real figures are undoubtedly higher. Japan carried out a total of 15 executions in 2008 (the highest known number since 1975). There are estimated to be approximately 100 people on death row. Prison authorities reportedly carry out executions by hanging, usually in secret.
  5. According to the Amnesty International report, the sharp increase in executions in Saudi Arabia that commenced in 2007 continued into 2008. There were at least 102 executions - at an average rate of two executions every week. Almost half of those executed were foreign nationals from poor and developing countries. This is a disproportionately high number in relation to the local population. In Saudi Arabia, prisoners are sentenced in largely secret and unfair trials and defendants, particularly poor migrant workers from countries in Africa and Asia, often have no defence lawyer and are unable to follow court proceedings in Arabic. They, and many of the Saudi Arabians who are executed, also have little or no access to influential figures such as government authorities or heads of tribes who can intercede in their behalf, or to money - both crucial factors in securing clemency. Saudi Arabia is one of the few states in the world in which the authorities continue to execute women and in which juvenile offenders have been executed in recent years, although no executions of juvenile offenders were reported in 2008. Execution is usually by beheading and in some cases, crucifixion follows execution.
Top 5 facts sources:
  1. Amnesty International. (2008). Report: Death Sentences and Executions in 2008.
Tags: People, Top 5 Most, Crime & Punishment Statistics

Sources:  Amnesty International

List Notes: Data is for the year 2008. 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 Amnesty International 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 2008

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