Saudi Arabia Death Penalty Executions Tripled in 2011

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights rebuked Saudi Arabia for bucking a global trend toward fewer executions.  Rupert Colleville, a spokesperson for the High Commissioner said that executions increased from 29 in 2010 to at least 70 last year–he said one woman was even executed for “Witchcraft.”

The death penalty isn’t really a controversial issue in UN circles. There’s a fairly broad consensus that it is an illegitimate form of punishment. Of course, member states have different views on the matter.  The most recent global data about which countries execute comes from a March 2011 Amnesty International report, which says that capital punishment was carried out in the following countries:

China (1,000s)

Iran (252+)

North Korea (60+)

Yemen (53+)

USA (46)

Saudi Arabia (27+)

Libya (18+)

Syria (17+)

Bangladesh (9+)

Somalia (8+)

Sudan (6+)

Palestinian Authority (5)

Egypt (4)

Equatorial Guinea (4)

Taiwan (4)

Belarus (2)

Iraq (1+)

Malaysia (1+)

Bahrain (1)

Singapore (unknown number)

Vietnam (unknown number)

Despite these statistics, the trend is very much toward global abolition of the death penalty. According to the Amnesty report, 31 countries have abolished capital punishment in law or practice in the past 10 years. In all, 139 countries (out of 193 UN member states) have effectively banned the death penalty.

That’s why its such shocking news that one country is putting its capital punishment system in overdrive.