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The Killing Fields 2008

Mar 27, 2009
Our very first posting on All Together Now was The Killing Fields, the report from Amnesty International on death penalty statistics from 2007. The report for 2008 is now available1, and we cannot say the world has come very far. Numbers in parentheses are the 2007 figures. In 2008:

  • 2,390 people were executed in 25 countries (1252/24)
  • 8,864 people were sentenced to death in 52 countries (3,347/51)
  • China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, USA, and Pakistan together carried out 93 percent of the known executions in 2008. China carried out the vast majority of these, at 1,718—72 percent of the known total executions worldwide, and it is widely believed there were many more carried out in secret, in China and in many other countries.
  • At 37 executions, the US is in fourth place in the world.
There is some good news. The US carried out fewer executions in 2008 than were reported since 1995. Still the fact that the state, any state, continues to practice capital punishment is a horrible stain on our species and a real reflection of how far we have not come since the days of the Spanish Inquisition, Salem witch burnings, Stalin's show trials, and other state-sponsored horror shows that revealed the basest levels of mankind’s iniquity.

Still, when torture has become, and remains, the acknowledged policy of a once-great democracy, who can be surprised?
1 Death Sentences and Executions in 2008 (pdf, 30 pages), from Amnesty International, 2009, accessed Mar 25, 2009
tags: Death Penalty

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