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The Death Penalty in the Arab World 2012

The Death Penalty in the Arab World 2012


2011 and 2012 were turbulent years for the countries and people of North Africa and the Middle East. The revolutions in Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt, during which the government were removed, opened a space for the people to renegotiate who should rule their country and how.

These negotiating are underway and up to this point it is difficult to know how it will be played out. However, due to harsh living conditions and little improvements overnight the populations continue to rise up, which currently also occurs in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. In Syria the revolution resulted in a civil war in which various regional movements and powers are fighting at the expense of the Syrian people. 2011 and 2012’s numbers of death penalties and executions in the MENA-region has to be understood against this background. The domestic and regional instability in some cases appear to lead to an increase of handed down death penalties and executions. To get a grip on the population Kuwait’s government futilely tried to widen the range of crimes that can be punished with the death penalty by including blasphemy. Moreover, many of the death penalties and executions in Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Syria and Yemen were related to terrorist offences and other crimes against national security. A substantial amount of sentences was imposed for alleged charges of murder. To prove its authority in difficult times states can restore to capital punishment, which was the case in United Arab Emirates. In addition, internal and external conflicts, transitional governments, and/or authorial powers will further complicate the gathering of information and the accuracy of figures on the death penalty. Next to Iraq’s excessive increase in executions, the numbers of death sentences imposed by Algeria, Somalia and Sudan increased alarmingly. However, in contrast to the difficulties to obtain figures, the prevailing uncertainties and increasing figures, the death penalty records of Bahrain, Mauritania and Yemen dropped

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