Death penalty in the Middle East: Here are the most blood-thirsty MENA governments

Published October 18th, 2015 - 11:33 GMT

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The Middle East is a notoriously unforgiving place, a quality that is nowhere more apparent than in how it executes prisoners. In Saudi Arabia, public beheadings and stonings are the favored method of applying the death penalty, and the condemned are often sedated beforehand. In Egypt, over 500 people were sentenced to death in a single day last year. In Iran, ethnic minorities, non-violent drug offenders and even children are killed in staggering numbers. Here’s an overview of how Middle Eastern countries use capital punishment.

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In the Middle East and North Africa, there were a number of countries that carried out no executions in 2014, according to a recent report by Amnesty International: Those countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar and Tunisia.
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Image 1 of 13:  1 / 13In the Middle East and North Africa, there were a number of countries that carried out no executions in 2014, according to a recent report by Amnesty International: Those countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar and Tunisia.

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However, eight countries in the MENA region did execute people last year, the Amnesty report says. The lightest uses of capital punishment were the United Arab Emirates, which only put one person to death in 2014, and the Palestinian Territories, which was confirmed to have killed two.
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Image 2 of 13:  2 / 13However, eight countries in the MENA region did execute people last year, the Amnesty report says. The lightest uses of capital punishment were the United Arab Emirates, which only put one person to death in 2014, and the Palestinian Territories, which was confirmed to have killed two.

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Next on the list is Jordan, which executed 11 people in 2014. Those 11 men were all hanged on the same day (December 21, 2014) in a prison 60 miles south of Amman. Before then, Jordan hadn’t executed anyone in eight years.
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Image 3 of 13:  3 / 13Next on the list is Jordan, which executed 11 people in 2014. Those 11 men were all hanged on the same day (December 21, 2014) in a prison 60 miles south of Amman. Before then, Jordan hadn’t executed anyone in eight years.

Enlarge
Moving up the list towards the most “guillotine-happy” countries in the Middle East is Egypt, which put to death at least 15 people in 2014. While that figure is relatively low, the Al Sisi regime in Egypt also handed down over 500 death sentences last year, which make up over 65% of all death sentences in the MENA region during that period!
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Image 4 of 13:  4 / 13Moving up the list towards the most “guillotine-happy” countries in the Middle East is Egypt, which put to death at least 15 people in 2014. While that figure is relatively low, the Al Sisi regime in Egypt also handed down over 500 death sentences last year, which make up over 65% of all death sentences in the MENA region during that period!

Enlarge
Though it’s a smaller country, Yemen executes more people than Egypt, putting at least 22 people to death in 2014. Since Yemen spiraled into civil war 6 months ago, militant Islamic groups have also carried out executions: ISIS’s Yemen affiliate reportedly beheaded 15 Houthi soldiers in April.
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Image 5 of 13:  5 / 13Though it’s a smaller country, Yemen executes more people than Egypt, putting at least 22 people to death in 2014. Since Yemen spiraled into civil war 6 months ago, militant Islamic groups have also carried out executions: ISIS’s Yemen affiliate reportedly beheaded 15 Houthi soldiers in April.

Enlarge
After Yemen, the government of Iraq put to death the most people of any country in the region -- at least 61 in 2014, Amnesty International reports. Confessions in Iraq are often coerced through torture, and executions are often carried out in batches. Last year, up to 34 people were put to death on a single day!
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Image 6 of 13:  6 / 13After Yemen, the government of Iraq put to death the most people of any country in the region -- at least 61 in 2014, Amnesty International reports. Confessions in Iraq are often coerced through torture, and executions are often carried out in batches. Last year, up to 34 people were put to death on a single day!

Enlarge
In the parts of Iraq held by ISIS, however, the government has no power. Exact numbers of ISIS executions are impossible to confirm, but media reports tell a grisly story where civilians are put to death for minor “offenses” -- accused homosexuals are thrown from rooftops, for example, while thieves are tied to crosses in town squares and shot.
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Image 7 of 13:  7 / 13In the parts of Iraq held by ISIS, however, the government has no power. Exact numbers of ISIS executions are impossible to confirm, but media reports tell a grisly story where civilians are put to death for minor “offenses” -- accused homosexuals are thrown from rooftops, for example, while thieves are tied to crosses in town squares and shot.

Enlarge
The 2nd-most homicidal country in the whole region when it comes to the death penalty is Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom, which is governed by sharia law, favors public beheadings as its preferred execution method, as well as public stonings for people convicted of such acts as adultery. In both cases, the condemned are sedated before being killed.
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Image 8 of 13:  8 / 13The 2nd-most homicidal country in the whole region when it comes to the death penalty is Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom, which is governed by sharia law, favors public beheadings as its preferred execution method, as well as public stonings for people convicted of such acts as adultery. In both cases, the condemned are sedated before being killed.

Enlarge
Saudi Arabia is also known for executing people for “crimes” like “sorcery,” “witchcraft” and apostasy (renouncing religious faith), as well as for people who voice opposition to the ruling family. The Kingdom is also one of the few countries in the world that executes children under age 18.
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Image 9 of 13:  9 / 13Saudi Arabia is also known for executing people for “crimes” like “sorcery,” “witchcraft” and apostasy (renouncing religious faith), as well as for people who voice opposition to the ruling family. The Kingdom is also one of the few countries in the world that executes children under age 18.

Enlarge
But the top killer in the MENA region by far is Iran. The Islamic Republic puts to death more people than any country in the world except for China (and possibly North Korea, where statistics are impossible to confirm.) Human rights groups claim Iran has put to death hundreds of people since January alone, though most executions are unreported.
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Image 10 of 13:  10 / 13But the top killer in the MENA region by far is Iran. The Islamic Republic puts to death more people than any country in the world except for China (and possibly North Korea, where statistics are impossible to confirm.) Human rights groups claim Iran has put to death hundreds of people since January alone, though most executions are unreported.

Enlarge
Iran appears to use the death penalty for multiple reasons, first and foremost to punish drug users and drug dealers. Human Rights Watch said in June that Iran has executed at least 340 people this year, the majority of whom were found guilty of “drug-related offences.”
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Image 11 of 13:  11 / 13Iran appears to use the death penalty for multiple reasons, first and foremost to punish drug users and drug dealers. Human Rights Watch said in June that Iran has executed at least 340 people this year, the majority of whom were found guilty of “drug-related offences.”

Enlarge
Iran also uses the death penalty to kill off members of ethnic and religious minorities -- like Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims -- who it says are guilty of “enmity against God” and “corruption on Earth.”
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Image 12 of 13:  12 / 13Iran also uses the death penalty to kill off members of ethnic and religious minorities -- like Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims -- who it says are guilty of “enmity against God” and “corruption on Earth.”

Enlarge
In Syria, before the war, the Assad regime was known for handing out death sentences for crimes like robbery, drug trafficking, or even just belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the war began in 2011, however, it’s been impossible to say how many state-sanctioned executions have occurred.
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Image 13 of 13:  13 / 13In Syria, before the war, the Assad regime was known for handing out death sentences for crimes like robbery, drug trafficking, or even just belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the war began in 2011, however, it’s been impossible to say how many state-sanctioned executions have occurred.

Enlarge

1

In the Middle East and North Africa, there were a number of countries that carried out no executions in 2014, according to a recent report by Amnesty International: Those countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar and Tunisia.

Image 1 of 13In the Middle East and North Africa, there were a number of countries that carried out no executions in 2014, according to a recent report by Amnesty International: Those countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar and Tunisia.

2

However, eight countries in the MENA region did execute people last year, the Amnesty report says. The lightest uses of capital punishment were the United Arab Emirates, which only put one person to death in 2014, and the Palestinian Territories, which was confirmed to have killed two.

Image 2 of 13However, eight countries in the MENA region did execute people last year, the Amnesty report says. The lightest uses of capital punishment were the United Arab Emirates, which only put one person to death in 2014, and the Palestinian Territories, which was confirmed to have killed two.

3

Next on the list is Jordan, which executed 11 people in 2014. Those 11 men were all hanged on the same day (December 21, 2014) in a prison 60 miles south of Amman. Before then, Jordan hadn’t executed anyone in eight years.

Image 3 of 13Next on the list is Jordan, which executed 11 people in 2014. Those 11 men were all hanged on the same day (December 21, 2014) in a prison 60 miles south of Amman. Before then, Jordan hadn’t executed anyone in eight years.

4

Moving up the list towards the most “guillotine-happy” countries in the Middle East is Egypt, which put to death at least 15 people in 2014. While that figure is relatively low, the Al Sisi regime in Egypt also handed down over 500 death sentences last year, which make up over 65% of all death sentences in the MENA region during that period!

Image 4 of 13Moving up the list towards the most “guillotine-happy” countries in the Middle East is Egypt, which put to death at least 15 people in 2014. While that figure is relatively low, the Al Sisi regime in Egypt also handed down over 500 death sentences last year, which make up over 65% of all death sentences in the MENA region during that period!

5

Though it’s a smaller country, Yemen executes more people than Egypt, putting at least 22 people to death in 2014. Since Yemen spiraled into civil war 6 months ago, militant Islamic groups have also carried out executions: ISIS’s Yemen affiliate reportedly beheaded 15 Houthi soldiers in April.

Image 5 of 13Though it’s a smaller country, Yemen executes more people than Egypt, putting at least 22 people to death in 2014. Since Yemen spiraled into civil war 6 months ago, militant Islamic groups have also carried out executions: ISIS’s Yemen affiliate reportedly beheaded 15 Houthi soldiers in April.

6

After Yemen, the government of Iraq put to death the most people of any country in the region -- at least 61 in 2014, Amnesty International reports. Confessions in Iraq are often coerced through torture, and executions are often carried out in batches. Last year, up to 34 people were put to death on a single day!

Image 6 of 13After Yemen, the government of Iraq put to death the most people of any country in the region -- at least 61 in 2014, Amnesty International reports. Confessions in Iraq are often coerced through torture, and executions are often carried out in batches. Last year, up to 34 people were put to death on a single day!

7

In the parts of Iraq held by ISIS, however, the government has no power. Exact numbers of ISIS executions are impossible to confirm, but media reports tell a grisly story where civilians are put to death for minor “offenses” -- accused homosexuals are thrown from rooftops, for example, while thieves are tied to crosses in town squares and shot.

Image 7 of 13In the parts of Iraq held by ISIS, however, the government has no power. Exact numbers of ISIS executions are impossible to confirm, but media reports tell a grisly story where civilians are put to death for minor “offenses” -- accused homosexuals are thrown from rooftops, for example, while thieves are tied to crosses in town squares and shot.

8

The 2nd-most homicidal country in the whole region when it comes to the death penalty is Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom, which is governed by sharia law, favors public beheadings as its preferred execution method, as well as public stonings for people convicted of such acts as adultery. In both cases, the condemned are sedated before being killed.

Image 8 of 13The 2nd-most homicidal country in the whole region when it comes to the death penalty is Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom, which is governed by sharia law, favors public beheadings as its preferred execution method, as well as public stonings for people convicted of such acts as adultery. In both cases, the condemned are sedated before being killed.

9

Saudi Arabia is also known for executing people for “crimes” like “sorcery,” “witchcraft” and apostasy (renouncing religious faith), as well as for people who voice opposition to the ruling family. The Kingdom is also one of the few countries in the world that executes children under age 18.

Image 9 of 13Saudi Arabia is also known for executing people for “crimes” like “sorcery,” “witchcraft” and apostasy (renouncing religious faith), as well as for people who voice opposition to the ruling family. The Kingdom is also one of the few countries in the world that executes children under age 18.

10

But the top killer in the MENA region by far is Iran. The Islamic Republic puts to death more people than any country in the world except for China (and possibly North Korea, where statistics are impossible to confirm.) Human rights groups claim Iran has put to death hundreds of people since January alone, though most executions are unreported.

Image 10 of 13But the top killer in the MENA region by far is Iran. The Islamic Republic puts to death more people than any country in the world except for China (and possibly North Korea, where statistics are impossible to confirm.) Human rights groups claim Iran has put to death hundreds of people since January alone, though most executions are unreported.

11

Iran appears to use the death penalty for multiple reasons, first and foremost to punish drug users and drug dealers. Human Rights Watch said in June that Iran has executed at least 340 people this year, the majority of whom were found guilty of “drug-related offences.”

Image 11 of 13Iran appears to use the death penalty for multiple reasons, first and foremost to punish drug users and drug dealers. Human Rights Watch said in June that Iran has executed at least 340 people this year, the majority of whom were found guilty of “drug-related offences.”

12

Iran also uses the death penalty to kill off members of ethnic and religious minorities -- like Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims -- who it says are guilty of “enmity against God” and “corruption on Earth.”

Image 12 of 13Iran also uses the death penalty to kill off members of ethnic and religious minorities -- like Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims -- who it says are guilty of “enmity against God” and “corruption on Earth.”

13

In Syria, before the war, the Assad regime was known for handing out death sentences for crimes like robbery, drug trafficking, or even just belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the war began in 2011, however, it’s been impossible to say how many state-sanctioned executions have occurred.

Image 13 of 13In Syria, before the war, the Assad regime was known for handing out death sentences for crimes like robbery, drug trafficking, or even just belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the war began in 2011, however, it’s been impossible to say how many state-sanctioned executions have occurred.

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