spooky headless judge holding scales of justice against a black background

Based on 2021 data from the Death Penalty Information Center, 141 countries have abolished capital punishment in some capacity (i.e. totally, for ordinary crimes, or in practice), and 55 countries permit capital punishment. Current data also shows that there were 579 executions carried out in 2021 by 18 countries. Methods used included beheading, hanging, lethal injection, and shooting.

In 2021, China executed more individuals than any other country (1,000+), followed by Iran (314+) and Egypt (83+). Executions in these countries are, for the most part, carried out in secrecy. In 2022, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia carried out over 120 executions, including a mass execution of 81 people.

The United States federal government and 27 of 50 states permit capital punishment; information about criminal prosecutions and executions is available to the public throughout the process. In Central and South America, the death penalty is either prohibited or suspended in most countries. Capital punishment is still permitted under the law of many Caribbean nations; however executions in this region are rare.

The death penalty is permitted in most of Asia. Japan carried out 6 executions from 2019 – 2021, all by the sole permitted method – hanging. The Japanese public is not informed about the executions until after they are carried out.

Of the 54 countries in Africa, 13 permit capital punishment. The death penalty is prohibited by Protocol No. 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The only country in Europe that continues to perform executions is Belarus.