The Common Good
July 2009

Global Death Penalty

by Rose Marie Berger, Jeannie Choi | July 2009


The number of executions world-wide nearly doubled last year compared with 2007, according to a study released in March by Amnesty International. At the same time, Europe and Central Asia have become virtually death penalty-free zones, with only Belarus still maintaining capital punishment. The United States is the only country in the Americas that consistently executes, but the number of executions in 2008 was the lowest since 1995.

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138: Countries in the world that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice—more than two-thirds.

9: Countries since 1990 that are known to have executed juveniles (those under 18 years old at the time of the crime), including China, Iran, and the U.S.

93%: The percentage of the world’s executions carried out by the five countries with the highest rate of executions: China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S.

72%: The percentage of the world’s executions carried out by China in 2008.

Source: “Death Sentences and Executions in 2008” (Amnesty International, March 2009).

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