Four out of five of the world’s top executioners in 2020 were Middle Eastern countries, Amnesty International reported on April 21.
According to the human rights organization’s annual death penalty report, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia accounted for 88% of the 483 reported global executions in 2020, excluding China where the death penalty is a “state secret.”
“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 focused on protecting people’s lives from a deadly virus,” the group’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Director Heba Morayef said in a statement.
Amnesty International reported that the total number of executions recorded in the Middle East and North Africa fell from 579 in 2019 to 437 in 2020, dropping by 25% to their lowest levels in a decade.
The 85% drop in the recorded executions in Saudi Arabia and more than half in Iraq largely drove the region’s overall drop in the region, but it was overshadowed by a significant surge in Egypt, according to the report.
The report said that a 300% rise in recorded executions in Egypt made the country the third most frequent executioner in the world, putting 107 people to death in 2020 compared to 32 in 2019.
Meanwhile, Iran carried out 246 executions, retaining its place as the top executioner in the region and second in the world, after China, which is believed to annually execute thousands.
“While the overall number of executions within MENA has fallen compared to previous years, it still vastly outnumbers the quantity of executions recorded in the rest of the world, excluding China,” Morayef further stated.