By Ricky Gunawan for Aljazeera. The use of society’s ultimate sanction, the death penalty, has been declining around the world for decades. In 1977, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty; by 2015, 140 had either abolished it or for all practical purposes abandoned it. Nineteen American states and the District of Columbia have no death penalty, and in 2014, executions were carried out in only seven states.
However, over the same period, the number of countries applying the death penalty for drugs offenses has increased. In 1979 there were 10 countries that executed drug offenders. By 1985, that number had increased to 22; by 2000, to 36 (although it declined to 33 in 2012). Some years have seen as many as 1,000 drug-related executions, many of them in Iran, Singapore and China, where precise figures are unavailable. Thousands of individuals are on death row in Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa for drug offenses.
Indonesia offers a particularly gruesome example. In 2015, 14 prisoners there, mostly foreign nationals, were killed by firing squad.