Death penalty in practice

By Marcelo Duhalde APRIL 15, 2019

The death penalty is used to punish crime in 56 of 198 countries worldwide. At least 686 people were executed in 2018 according to Amnesty International. Another 2,531 people were condemned to death by execution last year, while some 19,504 prisoners around the world are on death row awaiting their fate

The following data is based on the recent report from Amnesty International for executions in 2018. The report makes use of various sources including official data, individuals facing death and their families, social organisations and media reports.

Last year figures

+ indicates this is the lowest estimate. China’s execution figures are estimated by Dui Hua, a charity that seeks clemency and better treatment for at-risk detainees.

Executions since 2008

Countries and territories where executions are more common over the past decade can be explored in the below graphic

Hover the lines to see the numbers

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Methods used

There are five main methods of execution. Other methods include stoning, used in two death sentences imposed in Iran recently.

Lethal injection

In 1997 China executed a prisoner by lethal injection for the first time in Kunming, Yunnan. The method has gradually replaced execution by firing squad

Estimated numbers of executions in China

The busiest death rows

There can be long gaps between sentencing and the execution being carried out. There have been cases reported of prisoners waiting on death row for over a decade, due to judicial processes

Abolition timeline

More than two-thirds of the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

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