> News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
> AI INDEX: ACT 50/007/2003     11 April 2003
> 1,526 executed in 2002
> (Geneva) During 2002 over 1,526 people were executed in 31 countries,
Amnesty International said today.
> Releasing its statistics for the number of worldwide executions carried
out during 2002, Amnesty International called on the UN Commission on Human
Rights to take strong action against the death penalty at its annual
session, currently sitting in Geneva, and to establish a universal
moratorium on executions.
> "The Commission on Human Rights will hopefully soon pass another strong
resolution reiterating its call for an immediate worldwide moratorium on
executions and urging states to respect international standards, including
the ban on executing child offenders."
> "The UN should take the lead and take firm and positive measures to
protect those facing the death penalty."
> Amnesty International stressed that the figures released today only
include cases known to the organization. "It is impossible to give a
complete total because many countries deliberately keep the true numbers of
those executed secret, belying the supposed deterrent value of the death
penalty," the human rights organization said.
> Amnesty International also recorded over 3,248 people who were sentenced
to death in 67 countries during 2002.
> "Many cases were in blatant violation of international standards on the
application of the death penalty," Amnesty International said.
> "Prisoners were sentenced to death following unfair trials. There were
executions of child offenders -- people convicted of crimes committed when
they were under the age of 18." Three such executions were recorded in
2002 - all in the USA.
> Amnesty International recorded 1,060 executions in China and 113
executions in Iran, but the true number was believed to be much higher in
both countries. Seventy-one people were executed in the USA, up from 66 in
> "The figures for China, Iran and the USA accounted for 81 per cent of all
known executions in 2002," Amnesty International said.
> "Yet there has also been progress towards abolition. By the end of the
year, 111 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice."
> During 2002, Cyprus and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia and
Montenegro) abolished the death penalty for all offences. Turkey abolished
the death penalty in practice.
> Amnesty International welcomed the decision by the President of Tanzania
in April 2002 to commute the death sentences of 100 people convicted of
murder, and the commutation of 17 death sentences in Saudi Arabia in
> More recently, Governor George Ryan of the US state of Illinois decided,
when leaving office in January 2003, to commute the sentences of all 167
prisoners on the state's death row. Suspension of executions were announced
in Guatemala, the Philippines and the US state of Maryland. In Kyrgysztan,
the President announced in January 2003 that the country's moratorium in
executions would be extended for another year.
> Additionally, during 2002 Djibouti, Lithuania and South Africa ratified
the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) -- a treaty providing for the total abolition of
the death penalty -- bringing the number of state parties to the Second
Optional Protocol to 49.
> In Europe, a new treaty providing for the total abolition of the death
penalty with no exceptions was adopted and opened for signature. By the end
of the year five countries had ratified Protocol No. 13 to the European
Convention on Human Rights, and 34 other countries had signed it.
> Another positive development in 2002 was the formation of the World
Coalition against the Death Penalty, comprising trade unions, bar
associations, local and regional governments and human rights organizations.
This new coalition is working for the universal abolition of capital
punishment. Amnesty International has been joined by the other members of
the Coalition in appealing for action by the UN Commission on Human Rights.
> "The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment
and a violation of the right to life," Amnesty International said.
> "It is time to get rid of this barbaric punishment forever."
> ****************************************************************
> The death penalty worldwide: developments in 2002, for mor information
visit http://click.topica.com/maaaZUaaaXmksbb0iqnb/
> Facts and figures on the death penalty, visit
> For more information on death sentences and executions in 2002, visit
> For current and background information on the death penalty please visit
the dedicated Death Penalty Pages
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