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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Amnesty International's bullshit stats about world executions

Amnesty International (AI) has just brought out a survey about the number of executions which occurred in 2012. It proudly states that the "United States executes more people than Afghanistan and N Korea'.

I know that AI can't be held accountable for how an article is written up, but I don't think the problem is entirely due to Metro.

This is an extremely deceptive or even ignorant article. Whether it’s deliberately deceptive I can’t definitely say. In addition, whether the culprit is Amnesty International or how the piece is written up by Metro is also hard to say.

For a start. This is exclusively about government or state executions. Now that changes everything! For example, take Pakistan and Afghanistan, who both “score” less than the United States in the survey. Afghanistan hardly has a central state; vast swathes of the country are more or less ruled by warlords or by tribal chiefs. The case is similar in Pakistan; but less so. There are vast parts of Pakistan where the state has virtually no input. In Pakistan, apart from the state being in charge of defence and war; there is very little else it does (especially in rural areas and in the in very large “villages” of Pakistan). In fact, even in the major cities, such as Karachi, the state hardly has much of an impact (hence the massive rates of crime – including murder).

Now if we factor in those facts with the addition fact that some of the countries featured in the Amnesty International survey are also Islamic/Muslim countries, which are largely run according to sharia law, then there are some interesting consequences.

In Pakistan, for example, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of executions every year. It’s just that they are not carried out by the state. They are carried out on a tribal village basis according to the rulings of clerics/imams or religious leaders. That means that the state has no input into these executions or sharia killings whatsoever. And that’s why Pakistan scores so low in the Amnesty International survey. There are hundreds of executions that aren’t carried out by the Pakistani state.

In terms of Afghanistan, if we realise that there is hardly a state at all in vast parts of the country, as well as these parts being run according to sharia law, then no wonder it scores so low (14) in this survey. All the executions occur regardless of the state or government’s involvement.

There is a lot of information on the Internet showing that there are thousands of non-state executions in the Muslim world each year. For example, there were 20,000 “honour killings” in a handful of Muslim countries in one single year. In Pakistan specifically, there were 4,000 in only six years. In addition, there is death for apostasy, adultery, homosexuality and for other sharia-crimes. Added together to Pakistan’s score alone, its executions probably add up to more than the entire state-executions of Amnesty International’s survey.

So unless Amnesty International specifically states that it only deals with state executions, which I’m not sure if it does, then it’s hard to see why it has ignored all these non-state executions. Does AI deem state executions to be worse than non-state executions? And if it does, why does it do so?

*) In addition, the United States has a population of over 250 million, and China has a billion inhabitants. Pakistan has around 150 million and many of the states in your survey have a population of less than 10 million. Surely population numbers are relevant to your survey too.

The Metro article:

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