The number of people executed under the death penalty increased by 53 percent in 2022, according to a landmark report by Amnesty International, with the global death toll hitting 883 people, up from 579 the year before. This marks the highest execution rate in five years.
According to Amnesty, three countries - Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - accounted for 90 percent of all known executions. Iran saw an 83 percent increase, rising from 341 in 2021 to at least 576 people being killed in 2022. Of these cases, 255 were drug-related offenses and 279 were for murder. This grim trend has continued into this year, with at least 94 people put to death in the country in January and February alone, with executions used as a tool of ethnic repression, according to Amnesty.
Saudi Arabia’s numbers also saw a major increase, tripling from 65 to 196 people. This marks the highest number of known executions recorded in the country in 30 years. The change was mainly driven by an increase of executions for terrorism-related offenses (rising from 9 in 2021 to 85 in 2022) as well as the resumption of executions for drug-related offenses (rising from 0 in 2021 to 57 in 2022). Egypt executed 24 people and handed out 538 death sentences that year.
China continues to be considered the most serious executioner, with deaths expected to be in their thousands. Our chart excludes these figures, however, as the secrecy of the state means that exact death count remains unknown. Amnesty said that figures are also unknown for North Korea and Vietnam, and adds that the total yearly figures represent the minimum values.
The known executions recorded and used in this chart were carried out in 20 countries in 2022, up from 18 the year before. In the United States 2022 saw 18 executions nationwide, which is an increase from the 11 the year before, but still remains among the country’s lowest figures.