Friday, April 27, 2007

We are Known by the Company we Keep

Amnesty International has released its annual report on global death penalty statistics. This got brief coverage on BBC World Service Radio, but the best place to see the numbers is at Al Jazeera English. Here are the most important statistics:

Amnesty International reported 1,591 executions last year.

It said 91 per cent of all known executions took place in six countries.

- China: More than 1,000 executions reported but actual figures could be as high as 8,000.
- Iran: 177 people at least, doubling the number in 2005.
- Pakistan: 82
- Iraq: 65, including at least two women - death penalty reinstated in 2004 to combat violence.
- Sudan: 65, chief among six African countries that carried out executions in 2006.
- United States: 53 people in 12 states, the only country in the Americas to have carried out any executions since 2003.

I find this particularly interesting in light of our efforts to be seen as the exporter of democracy to the rest of the world. Sadly, our value system is determined less by what we say than by what we do and, apparently, by the company we keep in doing it.

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