Death Penalty worldwide

Worldwide, people are still being hanged, shot or gased to death, poisoned by lethal injection, stoned to death, decapitated or executed by other means.

And countries are still very creative when it comes to offenses punishable by death: These reach from murder, rape, kidnapping, treason…

… to delicts like apostasy, adultery (which in some countries includes getting raped!) or being homosexual. 

Symbole law and justice

The Death Penalty in Practice

Over the last twenty years, significant progress has been made towards ending the death penalty worldwide. As of today, 142 nations have abolished the death penalty or at least have not carried out any execution in the past 10 years:

  • 106 countries abolished the death penalty for all crimes
  • 8 countries abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes only
  • 28 countries are abolitionist in practice
  • 56 countries are retentionist


But unfortunately, 56 countries and territories kept capital punishment in their law and carried out executions in the past 10 years. 

Numbers of executions carried out in 2019

In 2019 at least 657 human beings plus ‘thousands of people’ in China were executed (source of data: Amnesty Interational). Amnesty International does not give any numbers concerning China since the country still treats the death penalty as a state secret and does not hand out official numbers on executions or death sentences.

The five nations with the highest number of executions carried out in 2019 were: China (number unknown), Iran (> 251), Saudi Arabia (> 184), Iraq (> 100), and Egypt (>32). It is highly probable, that the real number of executions are far higher than the officially revealed figures.

Documented numbers of executions by Amnesty International


The only European country which still uses capital punishment is Belarus. Since 1991, the year of the accession of power of the current gouvernment, assumingly 400 people were executed in this nation.

Increasing numbers of exeuctions in Saudi-Arabia, Iran and Iraq

Highly concerning became the countries Saudi-Arabia, Iran and Iraq, where the yearly execution numbers rose dramatically during the last years and in many cases for non-mortal crimes like drug trafficking or offenses like blasphemy which are capital crimes under Islamic law.

Terrorism boosted capital punishment over the last years as well and due to the not given transparency it is very likely, that many people who got accused and executed for alleged terrorism, are not terrorists but civilists who were punished for other political reasons under the umbrella of law.

In the following we want to give you a short overview over some of the countries which had most executions in the recent years.

Sources and further information:

World Coaltion against the Death Penalty:; Amnesty International: „Death sentences and executions in 2015„, published in April 2016; „Death Sentences and Executions 2017„, published in April 2018; „Death Penalty in 2019: Facts and figures“, published in April 2020.

As of June 2020