There was a huge increase in the number of people executed last year driven by a sharp escalation in death sentences handed out by Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Figures gathered by human rights organisation Amnesty International found that at least 1,634 people were executed by 25 countries in 2015. This is a 55% increase on the 1,061 recorded executions in 2014 and is the highest number recorded since 1989.
It’s important to note that the figure doesn’t include executions in China because the Chinese government keep the figures secret. Excluding China, a massive 90% of worldwide executions were carried out by just three countries — Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Topping the execution list is Iran who executed around 981 people in 2015. That’s 60% of the worldwide total and represents an increase of 238 executions from 2014. Four of the people it executed were under 18 at the time they are alleged to have committed a crime.
From 2008 to December 2014 Pakistan didn’t execute anyone, but in response to a terrorist attack on a school it has started up again big time. It put 326 people to death in 2015, the largest number ever recorded by Amnesty international.
Saudi Arabia executed around 158 in 2015. That a 76% increase on 2014 and, as Business Insider has pointed out before, represents a trend for Saudi to escalate the rate it carries out executions year on year.
Despite the upwards trend, not everyone is joining the execution bandwagon. Fiji, the Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Suriname all abolished the death penalty last year.