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In March 2011, Amnesty International released its report on Death Sentences and Executions in 2010. The table on the left below shows the 10 countries with the highest number of executions. Plus signs (+) next to the figures indicate that additional executions may have occured without public disclosure. For this reason, and because the figures are not adjusted for population size, it is not a fair ranking of the prevalence of capital punishment. In the United States of America 12 states carried out executions in 2010. The table on the right is a Top 10 list of countries and states in the USA adjusted for population size.

If the figures for countries where additional executions may have taken place without public disclosure were doubled, Alabama would still be in the Top 10. Somalia would be 9th, but Bangladesh has a population of over 156 million. Next year the rankings may change dramatically because the North African countries that experienced political unrest recently have issued an unusually large number of death sentences.

Top 10 countries for executions in 2010
The figures for executions in each state come from U.S. Department of Justice and the population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau:

Capital Punishment around the world

Amnesty International maintains a list of abolitionist and retentionist countries.

The death penalty has been abolished for all crimes by every country in Western Europe. In Eastern Europe the Russian Federation has held a moratorium on executions and death sentences for more than 10 years but still needs to abolish the death penalty in law. Belarus is the only Eastern European country which carried out executions in 2010.

China is believed to have executed thousands of people in 2010 but continues to maintain secrecy over its use of the death penalty.

The region with the second highest number of executions was the Middle East and North Africa. The Iranian authorities acknowledged the execution of 252 people in 2010, although Amnesty International received credible reports of more than 300 other executions which were not officially acknowledged.

Four countries were known to have executed prisoners in sub-Saharan Africa in 2010: Botswana (1), Equatorial Guinea (4), Somalia (8+) and Sudan (6+).

The USA was the only country in the Americas to carry out executions in 2010.

The Pacific Islands remained free from death sentences and executions.

Executions of Juvenile Offenders

Iran executed one juvenile offender in July 2010.

The last execution of a juvenile offender in the USA took place in Oklahoma in 2003. In 2005 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty for juveniles was a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because it qualified as a “cruel and unusual punishment.” So unusual that between 1990-2005 only nine countries in the world applied the death penalty to juvenile offenders. Source:

• From 1990 until 2005 the number of juvenile offenders executed were: USA (19), Iran (18), Pakistan (3), China (2), Sudan (2), Nigeria (1), Congo (1), Yemen (1) and Saudi Arabia (1). Adjusted for population size, the United States’ execution rate was second only to that of Iran.

• In 2010, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen imposed death sentences (but not executions) on individuals who were below 18 years of age when the crimes were committed. This is a clear breach of Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which they had all ratified by 1997.


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