A recent report from Amnesty International, a non-government organization, found a significant rise in global executions in 2022. A total of 883 people are known to have been executed last year, an increase of 53% from 2021. These figures could be even higher as some countries have not made data available, or keep it protected under national interests.
According to the report, the sharp rise in executions was led by countries in the Middle East and North Africa, where recorded figures rose from 520 in 2021 to 825 in 2022. It is estimated that 90% of the executions held outside of China were performed in Iran (576, up from 314), Saudi Arabia (196, up from 65), and Egypt (24). Particularly in Iran, Amnesty International saw the sharpest rise in any nation in three decades, tripling its executions.
The report goes on to note the offenses that were issued a capital sentence within Iran. Of the 576 people allegedly killed by the Iranian government, 279 were convicted of murder, 255 of drug-related offences, 21 of rape, and 18 of the national security charge of “enmity against God.” Furthermore, Iran executed 2 men who were associated with the anti-government protests in the Islamic Republic, which took place last September.
There were several countries identified that keep their rates of executions a closely guarded secret. Among these nations are China, North Korea, and Viet Nam, countries which the report noted “are known to use the death penalty extensively.” While Amnesty International reported that the global figure would be much higher if the rates of execution in these countries were known, there was not enough information to include them within the report. It did suggest that China’s total number of executions was ahead of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the USA.
Vatican News highlighted the Catholic Church’s teaching on capital punishment:
Capital punishment is considered “inadmissible” as punishment for any crime, as it attacks the “inviolability and dignity of the person.” In 2018, Pope Francis revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church to read:
2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.