Amnesty International documented 714 executions were committed in 2009 onto those formally sentenced to death. The report is clear that China’s secrecy forces them to exclude its numbers, but something else is missing.

30 Mar 2010 | InfoShop News

Amnesty International’s report, “Death Sentences and Executions in 2009” [.pdf], chronicles its “global research on the use of the death penalty in 2009” which “documented the executions of 714 people, but this total does not include figures from China, where the majority of the world’s executions take place, so the real global total is significantly higher”.

On file “evidence from previous years and a number of current sources indicates that the figure remains in the thousands”. In its 2007 and 2008 reports, Amnesty documented 1,718 and 2,390 executions, respectively. [.pdf]

The report adds that 2,001 documented cases of death sentences were ordered in 56 countries last year, while Burundi and Togo joined 95 other nations in abolishing the death penalty.

Not to excuse China’s brutality or the 112 documented executions by the Iranian government between the June presidential election and the August inauguration, but the study will be used by American exceptionalists to demonize the two as ‘worse than us’.

Amnesty isn’t shy to imply that the numbers are faulty. That their numbers aren’t facts, but the numbers that governments and investigations on the ground have uncovered. It should be noted that Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are client-states of the U.S. and total 219+ executions between the three. The death penalty is a tool used by these brutal regimes—Saudi Arabia and Yemen, uncontroversially, two of the most brutal in the world—to keep their serfs in submission. This benefits the politicians, royal families and multinational corporate financiers of the U.S. and its clients. It’s their way of exploiting these territories without having to be concerned about massive backlash. Without encouraging such Draconian policies from these countries, there would be total insurrection from mass movements toward self-determination.

Something else missing is the U.S. military’s use of ‘targeted assassinations’, most notably in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of course, that’s because the study isn’t to document state-sanctioned slaughter, but executions resulting from domestic criminal procedures. But it should be noted that “Pakistani authorities released statistics indicating that in 2009, drone strikes had killed over 700 innocent civilians,” as the Asian Tribune reported over a week ago. “January 2010 proved to be a deadly month with 123 innocent civilians killed. Latest reports, show that 18 missiles by eight drones killed 16 innocent people on February 2nd.”

As far as I know, Iran doesn’t have international executions documented. Neither does Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Yemen do, but they’re across each other’s borders with the direct support of the U.S.

So, to call Iran the most frequent executioner State, behind China, is an ignorant way to interpret this study. Amnesty’s numbers across the board are extremely conservative, but it’s had an extremely close eye on Iran while the American client-states are exponentially less transparent and therefore, unable to accurately look into.

What’s uncontroversial is that the U.S. executed at least 750-800 people by government orders to directly do so. A vast majority of Iranians executed were to quash dissent. Those of the American government in Obama’s ‘Af-Pak’ War is nothing less than the wanton destruction of civilians—untried in any courts, uncharged with any crimes and not accused. It’s wide-scale violence to achieve political ends. It’s international terrorism.

The highlights of the report are the “discriminatory way the death penalty was applied in 2009, often after grossly unfair trials, and used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities”, but “show that the world continued to move towards abolition in 2009”. It notes that Belarus the only country in Europe that uses the death penalty and the U.S. the only in the Americas to “carry out executions”.

But, again, missing are the statistics of ‘targeted assassinations’ and outright sieges on the U.S.-Mexico border between the U.S.-Mexican alliance and the drug cartels that has resulted in over 4,000 casualties over the last two years; and covert paramilitary actions by Colombia—another U.S. client-State—to assassinate ‘rebel separatists’ along the border it shares with Venezuela. The U.S. government’s ‘targeted assassination’ policy is the execution not of an order from the judicial branch of the government, following some sort of public ‘due process’ where the target confronts his charges and the evidence being used against him/her. It’s simply a presidential order—an ‘executive order’, if you wish.

I’m not saying the study is bad. It’s extremely conservative and serves its purpose as an individual research report and ought to be treated as documenting a specific type of State-sanctioned killing—that which follows whatever half-assed ‘criminal justice’ system exists within each government. An overwhelming amount of deliberate killing by the State is extrajudicial—‘targeted assassination’ operations are, for instance, divorced from the larger quantity of combat casualties. But, legally, these are not called “executions”, as they are not ordered by a court.

Amnesty’s video preview of “Death Sentences and Executions in 2009” (3:28):

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