The year 2014 was a mixed one for executions. According to new data collected by Amnesty International, the number of executions carried out around the world dropped – but the number of death sentences given out as legal punishments increased dramatically.
In total, Amnesty – an advocacy group that opposes the death penalty – found that there were at least 607 people executed in 22 countries in 2014. As in previous years, the real number was likely far, far higher. Most notably, China is believed to have executed at least 1,000 people last year, but Amnesty excludes its estimate for China from the final count as it cannot be confirmed.
After China, the largest number of executions were believed to have occurred in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the U.S. Iran may have executed hundreds more without officially acknowledging them; it is also reported to have executed at least 14 people under 18, Amnesty found. While most countries used methods such as hanging, lethal injections and shootings, Saudi Arabia was the only country found to have executed people with beheadings.
Overall, the number of people executed dropped by 22 percent compared to 2013. 2014 saw a huge increase in the number of death sentences handed out. Amnesty found that there had been at least 2,466 death sentences recorded in 55 countries in 2014, a big increase over 2013, when at least 1,925 death sentences were recorded in 57 countries.