Overview of the death penalty worldwide in 2015.


The reported use of the death penalty worldwide increased markedly during 2015, there being at least 1368 executions in 19 countries (up from 789 executions in 18 countries in 2014, a 71% increase).  These are reported and verified judicial executions, but there will have been unreported ones in China, Iran, North Korea and Yemen. Details of executions are very hard to verify in these countries because of the official secrecy surrounding them.


Iran hanged at least 747 people during 2015, including at least 12 women, up from 494 in 2014.  However precise figures are hard to verify, with some websites listing far more executions than those announced in the Iranian media, from which my information comes.

In March 2015 Pakistan began executions for ordinary murderers in addition to terrorist crimes.  In mid January 2016 it was officially announced that 325 men had been hanged for murder and terrorism in 2015.  I have names, dates and prisons for 303 of these.  Reporting of executions by the Pakistani media is somewhat patchy.

Saudi Arabia publicly beheaded 152 men and 3 women for murder, rape and drug offences during this year.

The 24 executions in China are those that were reported in the media.  The true figure is unknown.

Iraqi executions decreased from 46 in 2014 to 6 in 2014.

The USA executed 27 men and one woman in six states during 2015, down from 35 in 2014.  49 people were sentenced to death in the USA this year, down from 72 in 2014.

Egypt hanged 12 men during 2015.

In August Chad executed 10 men by firing squad for terrorist offences.

Jordan hanged a man and a woman in February 2015 for terrorism, in response to ISIS burning a Jordanian air force pilot to death.

Indonesia executed 14 people, including two women, for drug trafficking during 2015, unleashing a storm of international protest, as most of those shot were foreign nationals.

The countries in which verifiable judicial executions took place during 2015 are below. (method in brackets)  Quasi judicial executions have taken place in the parts of Iraq and Syria controlled by ISIS and the Taliban and in Somalia controlled by rebel forces but these are excluded from these figures.



Afghanistan (H)


America (USA) (LI)


Bangladesh (H)


Chad (S)


China (LI + S)


Egypt (H)


India (H)


Indonesia (S)


Iran (H)


Iraq (H)


Japan (H)


Jordan (H)


Kurdistan (H)


Pakistan (H)


Saudi Arabia (B)


Singapore (H)


Somalia (S)


Taiwan (S)


UAE (Sharjah) (S)






Beheading (B)

Hanging (H)

Lethal injection (LI)

Shooting (S)




28 +
unknown for China

54 +
unknown for China, North Korea, Yemen

For the monthly update of the names, dates and crimes of those executed click here.

Methods used.
1092 men and 15 women were hanged in eleven countries, see table above. Public and private hangings took place in Iran, all the rest were in private.  Iran uses either a short drop or hoists the prisoner into the air with a hydraulic crane jib (used for many public hangings).  Afghanistan also uses the short drop. The other countries listed gave the prisoner a calculated drop.

Saudi Arabia publicly beheaded 152 men and three woman for murder, armed robbery, and drug offences during 2015, the highest number for some years.

All of the US executions in 2015 were carried out by lethal injection.  China also uses lethal injection, carried out either in purpose built execution chambers or in specially equipped mini-busses. However it appears that shooting has been retained as well and is used for more heinous offenders.  Normally the execution method is not reported in China.

Executions by shooting were carried out in Chad, Indonesia, Somalia and Taiwan.  There were probably shootings in North Korea.

At least 23 women were executed in eight countries during 2015. 12 women were hanged in Iran, 2 in Kurdistan and one in Jordan. Three were beheaded in Saudi Arabia, two shot in Indonesia and one in Sharjah.  At least one woman was executed by lethal injection in China and one in the USA.
Click here for details of females executed in 2015.

Back to contents page