Human Rights Commissioner Strässer on Amnesty International’s global report on the death penalty

01.04.2015 - Press release

The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement today (1 April 2015) on the publication of Amnesty International’s 2014 global report on executions and death sentences imposed worldwide:

The latest Amnesty International report on the death penalty worldwide seems encouraging: the number of executions listed fell by almost a quarter in 2014. Unfortunately, a large number of cases go unreported, however. According to Amnesty International China alone has executed more people than the rest of the world put together. And sadly the situation can change rapidly, as the example of Pakistan shows. There, after a moratorium lasting many years, 58 people were put to death in the first few months of the new year alone.

I am also concerned about the growing number of death sentences reported by Amnesty International. It is a mistake to believe that the death penalty is an effective way to fight crime. Unfortunately, it is often the very countries that cannot guarantee consistent law enforcement that hold fast to this myth. When imposing this horrific and inhumane punishment they are willing to accept that sometimes there will be miscarriages of justice.

What I find encouraging is the long‑term trend towards abolishment of the death penalty that has been emerging over several decades. This strengthens my resolve to continue to do everything in my power to attain this goal.

Background information:

In the 2014 report on the death penalty published on 1 April 2015, Amnesty International documented a drop of 22 per cent in the number of executions worldwide, from 778 to 607, and a 28 per cent rise in the number of death sentences imposed (from 1925 to 2466). These figures do not include the presumed thousands of executions in China and a high number of unreported cases in countries such as Iran, North Korea and Viet Nam. Amnesty International mainly attributes the increase in the number of death sentences imposed to Egypt and Nigeria, which imposed significantly more and in some cases mass death sentences. The number of countries that impose capital punishment was unchanged from 2013, at 22. Seven of these (Bangladesh, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and South Sudan) did not carry out any executions, while seven others (Belarus, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates) did carry out the death sentence once again. The number of countries that did not perform executions thus remained constant, at 140. The number of countries that have formally abolished the death penalty also remained constant, at 98.

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