2022 saw the highest number of executions in five years, says Amnesty International

Amnesty International released its annual review of the death penalty, recording the highest number of executions in five years.

Recorded executions in 2022 reached the highest figure in five years, as the Middle East and North Africa’s most notorious executioners carried out killing sprees, Amnesty International said today as it released its annual review of the death penalty.

Amnesty said that a total of 883 people were known to have been executed across 20 countries, marking a rise of 53% over 2021. This spike in executions, which does not include the thousands believed to have been carried out in China last year, was led by countries in the Middle East and North Africa, where recorded figures rose from 520 in 2021 to 825 in 2022.

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said: "Countries in the Middle East and North Africa region violated international law as they ramped up executions in 2022, revealing a callous disregard for human life. The number of individuals deprived of their lives rose dramatically across the region; Saudi Arabia executed a staggering 81 people in a single day. Most recently, in a desperate attempt to end the popular uprising, Iran executed people simply for exercising their right to protest."

Amnesty underlined that "90% of the world’s known executions outside China were carried out by just three countries in the region. Recorded executions in Iran soared from 314 in 2021 to 576 in 2022; figures tripled in Saudi Arabia, from 65 in 2021 to 196 in 2022 — the highest recorded by Amnesty in 30 years — while Egypt executed 24 individuals.

The use of the death penalty remained shrouded in secrecy in several countries, including China, North Korea, and Viet Nam — countries that are known to use the death penalty extensively — meaning that the true global figure is far higher. While the precise number of those killed in China is unknown, it is clear that the country remained the world’s most prolific executioner, ahead of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the USA."