UK ties to 2016 global executions

By agency reporter
January 1, 2017

Countries with close links to the UK and EU continued to occupy the ranks of the world’s most prolific executioners in 2016, research by the international human rights group Reprieve has found.

In Saudi Arabia, over 150 people were executed for the second year running, including 47 people in one day in January 2016. Among those killed were juveniles and political protestors. Fears remain for the fate of at least three people sentenced to death as children – Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher – who still await beheading.(http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23481)

In Pakistan, the authorities continued to execute scores of prisoners from the country’s 8,000-strong death row. A total of 419 prisoners have been hanged since a moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in December 2014. Concerns remained over the strong risk of miscarriages of justice in Pakistan: earlier this year, the Supreme Court found that two men who had been hanged were innocent. Pakistan’s government claims its use of the death penalty is a response to terrorism, but Reprieve’s research found that 94 per cent of prisoners recently hanged in Pakistan had nothing to do with terrorism. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22758)

In Iran, the government continued to hang hundreds of prisoners, nearly half of whom who were arrested for alleged drug offences. Reprieve continued to raise concerns that international funding for Iran’s anti-narcotics police may contribute to death sentences. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21855)

China continues to keep the number of executions a closely-guarded secret, but is widely believed to remain the world leader, with the death toll estimated in the thousands. The UK this year signed an agreement to increase cooperation with China on security and crime, leading to potential risks that British assistance could contribute to the death penalty.

Other countries of concern

The torture and sentencing to death of political protestors, and juveniles, continued apace in several countries with close ties to the UK.

Of particular concern are Bahrain – where several protestors await execution on the basis of forced ‘confessions’ – and Egypt. Reprieve has established that in the last three years, the Egyptian judiciary has sentenced 1,857 to death.

In addition, 2016 saw alarming proposals in Kuwait to lower to 16 the age at which people can be sentenced to death.

Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said: “It is alarming that countries with close links to the UK and EU continued to occupy the ranks of the world’s most prolific executioners in 2016. From Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, to Pakistan, Egypt and Bahrain, we have found children on death row, innocent people hanged, drugs offences dealt with as capital crimes, and torture used to extract false confessions. Countries that oppose executions must do more in 2017 to ensure that their overseas security assistance does not contribute to others states use of the death penalty.”

* Reprieve http://www.reprieve.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

 

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