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April 23, 2021

Some countries pursue death sentences despite corona, says Amnesty

Top Story

 
April 23, 2021

By News Desk

ISLAMABAD: The unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic were not enough to deter 18 countries from carrying out executions in 2020, Amnesty International said says.

While there was an overall trend of decline, some countries pursued or even increased the number of executions carried out, indicating a chilling disregard for human life at a time when the world’s attention focused on protecting people from a deadly virus.

2020 executioners included Egypt, which tripled its yearly execution figure compared to the previous year; and China, which announced a crackdown on criminal acts affecting COVID-19 prevention efforts, resulting in at least one man being sentenced to death and executed. Meanwhile, the Trump administration resumed federal executions after a 17-year hiatus and put a staggering 10 men to death in less than six months. India, Oman, Qatar and Taiwan also resumed executions, international media reported.

“As the world focused on finding ways to protect lives from COVID-19, several governments showed a disturbing determination to resort to the death penalty and execute people no matter what,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“The death penalty is an abhorrent punishment and pursuing executions in the middle of a pandemic further highlights its inherent cruelty. Fighting against an execution is hard at the best of times, but the pandemic meant that many people on death row were unable to access in-person legal representation, and many of those wanting to provide support had to expose themselves to considerable – yet absolutely avoidable – health risks. The use of the death penalty under these conditions is a particularly egregious assault on human rights.”

Covid-19 restrictions had concerning implications for access to legal counsel and the right to a fair trial in several countries, including the USA, where defence lawyers said they were unable to carry out crucial investigative work or meet clients face-to-face.