Four countries in the Middle East are among the top five executioners in the world in 2020, Amnesty International said.
Iran, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia topped the list with 88 percent of 483 executions worldwide, according to a report issued by the human rights organization.
The organization accused those countries of having “cruel and frightening determination” to kill people, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 epidemic.
The number of executions in the world was lower than any previous numbers a decade ago, but this does not include China.
China is believed to execute thousands of people every year, but the exact extent of its use of that punishment is unknown, because that data is a state secret.
On Wednesday, Amnesty International said in its annual report on the use of the death penalty that the total number of executions recorded in the Middle East and North Africa decreased from 579 in 2019 to 437 in 2020.
The reason for this decrease is largely due to the decrease in the percentage of recorded executions in Saudi Arabia by 85%, as there were 27 cases, and the decrease in Iraq was 50%, where 45 cases were carried out.
The report says that these declines were overshadowed by an increase of 300 percent in Egypt, where 107 people were executed, and thus Egypt became the third most executing country in the world.
Of these, 23 people were convicted in cases related to political violence, after trials that Amnesty International described as grossly unfair, and marred by forced “confessions” and other violations.
There was also an increase in the execution of death sentences in 57 people in October and November, after a failed escape attempt from Scorpion Prison in which a number of police officers and death row prisoners were killed.
Iran, which carried out at least 246 executions, remained second in the world after China.
Amnesty said that the Iranian authorities are increasingly using the death penalty as a “weapon of political repression” to confront dissidents, protesters and members of ethnic minorities.
Iran also carried out executions for three people for crimes that occurred when they were under the age of 18, in violation of international humanitarian law.
Amnesty accused Qatar of taking a “worrying step back” after carrying out its first death sentence in 20 years. It carried out a death sentence by firing squad for a Nepali man convicted of fatal firing last May.
A government agency in Saudi Arabia attributed the sharp decline in the implementation of death sentences in the Kingdom to “the suspension of the death penalty for drug-related crimes.”
But Amnesty said this may also be due to the kingdom’s desire to avoid criticism over the issue that casts a shadow over its G20 presidency.
Heba Morayef, Middle East Director at Amnesty International, said that the countries of the region “showed a cruel and frightening determination to implement plans to kill people even during a year when most of the world focused on protecting people’s lives from a deadly virus.”
“Although there is a clear global trend showing that most countries are shying away from using the death penalty, these countries constitute the majority of an increasingly isolated group of entrenched executioners, unlike the rest of the world, and this has fueled the vast majority of executions around the world,” she added. .