Number of Death Penalty Executions Rises 15% Worldwide in 2013

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Source: Aabdelaziz, “Hang Men,”, Jan. 25, 2014
Death penalty executions rose by 15% globally in 2013, according to a Mar. 27, 2014 report from Amnesty International. Excluding China, at least 778 executions were known to have been carried out in 2013, compared to 682 in 2012.

An over 30% increase in executions in Iran and Iraq in 2013 was responsible for the bulk of the 15% global increase, and those two countries plus Saudi Arabia accounted for at least 80% of executions worldwide (excluding China).

The five countries that executed the most people in 2013 were Iran (at least 369), Iraq (169), Saudi Arabia (79), the United States (39), and Somalia (34). According to Amnesty International, China tops the list with “thousands” put to death every year, though the official number of executions is kept secret.

A total of 22 countries executed people in 2013, one more than in 2012. Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria, and Vietnam all resumed use of the death penalty in 2013 after not executing anyone in 2012. Gambia, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Belarus suspended the use of the death penalty in 2013 after performing executions in 2012.

Despite the overall increase in executions from 2012 to 2013, the number of countries that have abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes increased from 85 countries in 2004 to 98 by the end of 2013. 140 countries in total have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

The United States is the only country to carry out executions in the Americas. The state of Texas accounted for 41% of the 39 people executed in 2013. 18 states have abolished the death penalty, most recently in Maryland on May 2, 2013.

Death penalty advocates say that executions deter future criminals, cost less than life in prison, and are just retribution for people who commit horrendous crimes.


Sophie Brown, “Report: Executions Rise in 2013, China Tops the List,”, Mar. 27, 2014

Julia Dahl, “Executions up 15% Worldwide in 2013, Reports Amnesty Intl,”, Mar. 27, 2014

Rick Gladstone, “Amnesty International Study Finds Executions Rose in 2013,”, Mar. 26, 2014

Matilda Greenhouse, “2013 Was a Big Year for Executions,”, Mar. 28, 2014

“Death Sentences and Executions 2013,”, Mar. 27, 2014

“Five Death Penalty Myths Debunked,”, Mar. 26, 2014