Newly released information from Amnesty International suggests that China continues to be the world’s top executioner, though it would prefer that you didn’t know that.
Figures released in the human rights group’s 2015 Death Penalty Report determined that executions had risen by over 50% since 2014 to 1,634 worldwide, the highest number in the last 25 years.
However, this number does not include Chinese executions, because Amnesty International does not trust death penalty data in China, for good reason as it is considered a state secret. Instead, they merely estimated that “thousands of people” had been executed in China in 2015.
In 2013, the Dui Hua Foundation, an American humanitarian organization, estimated that there were at least 2,400 executions in China in 2013, a number that they believe has remained stable since.
That number may sound enormous, until you find out that the number was estimated at 12,000 executions back in 2002. Still, while total executions have fallen dramatically over the last decade, and the world has just seen a dramatic increase in executions elsewhere, it remains exceedingly likely that China executed more prisoners than the rest of the world combined, as this handy CNN chart shows:
Public opinion about the death penalty also seems to be shifting somewhat, spurred on by revelations like the wrongful conviction and execution of an 18-year-old in Inner Mongolia. Still, Chinese citizens seem more than willing to employ capital punishment in some cases. A 2014 survey found that 73% supported using the death penalty as punishment in corruption cases. Last year, a viral campaign started, seeking the death penalty for child traffickers.
Public executions used to be common in China, but starting in 1997, many executions started being carried out in the back of “execution vans.” Nee says that media coverage of executions has also actually been further reduced in recent years. “The Chinese government should fully come clean about the truth of the death penalty in China,” he says.
By Matthew Patel