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Amnesty International Death penalty 2020

Death penalty 2020: Middle East and North Africa dominates list of world’s top executioners

  • Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia accounted for 88% of known global executions in 2020

  • Egypt tripled number of yearly executions

  • Iran accounted for 56% of all recorded executions in MENA

  • 85% drop in executions recorded in Saudi Arabia

  • Oman and Qatar resumed executions for first time in several years

  • Lowest number of executions globally in a decade for third consecutive year

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) ruthlessly persisted with executions, defying the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, making them some of the world’s most prolific executioners of 2020, said Amnesty International in its annual global death penalty report today.

The report reveals that four out of five of the world’s top executioners are MENA states. Iran (246+), Egypt (107+), Iraq (45+) and Saudi Arabia (27)  accounted for 88% of all reported executions carried out worldwide in 2020, excluding China, which is believed to execute thousands each year, making it the world’s most frequent executioner. 

“Throughout 2020 countries from the Middle East and North Africa displayed a ruthless and chilling persistence in carrying out plans to put people to death even during a year when most of the world was focussed on protecting people’s lives from a deadly virus,” said Heba Morayef, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.


“Despite a clear global trend showing most countries moving away from use of the death penalty, MENA states make up the majority of an increasingly isolated group of entrenched executioners out of step with the rest of the world, fuelling the vast majority of executions worldwide.”

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