Report: Executions Increased in 2011 due to Arab Spring

, by Common Dreams

US ranked fifth in executions with 43 in 2011, Amnesty International reports

Amnesty International has released its annual report on executions and the death penalty and found that executions were up in 2011. The increase, accoring to the report, is largely due to the reaction of Middle Eastern states to the Arab Spring. In total there were 678 reported executions in 2011 (though Amnesty International suggests that many executions in China and Iran go unreported).

In the Middle East, there was a 50 percent increase in executions as a result of widespread use of capital punishment in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Those four countries accounted for 99 percent of all executions in the Middle East, the report said.

Overall, the death penalty is being used by less countries than ever before, the report finds. Only 20 of 198 nations — or 10 percent — still use capital punishment.

“The vast majority of countries have moved away from using the death penalty,” said Salil Shetty Secretary General of Amnesty International, in a press release. “Our message to the leaders of the isolated minority of countries that continue to execute is clear: you are out of step with the rest of the world on this issue and it is time you took steps to end this most cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. “

The United States ranked fifth in the world in capital punishment, with 43 executions in 2011. "If you look at the company we’re in globally, it’s not the company we want to be in: China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq," Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

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Download the Amnesty International report on Death sentences and executions in 2011 here: