We hear a
lot about the death penalty in the US, but China, Iran, Saudi Arabia
and Vietnam are the world leaders at executing people. But if we look
at the use of the death penalty on a per capita basis, which country is
the most bloodthirsty? Here are the figures for six countries keen on
using the death penalty (execution figures from Amnesty International,
population figures from Lonely Planet):

    1. USA: 300 million people/60 executions per year = 20 per 100 million
    2. Vietnam: 80 million people /60 executions per year = 75 per 100 million people
    3. Iran: 70 million people/160 executions per year = 230 per 100 million people
    4. China: 1.3 billion people – 3,500 executions per year = 270 per 100 million
    5. Saudi Arabia: 25 million people/80 executions per year = 320 per 100 million
    6. Singapore: 4 million people/30 executions per year = 750 per 100 million people

makes Singapore the world champions by a long, long way – which is
hardly surprising when you read about their prime minister’s attitude
towards use of the death penalty (again from Amnesty):

      In September 2003, in an interview with the BBC, Prime Minister Goh
      Chok Tong was questioned about the number of people executed in 2003.
      He stated that he believed it was “in the region of about 70 to 80”. When asked why he did not know the precise number he said, “I’ve got more important things to worry about.” Two
      days later he retracted his statement, saying that the death penalty
      had in fact been carried out on ten occasions so far during the year.

    the Singaporean enthusiasm for the death penalty just hard-nosed
    economics – it’s cheaper to bump them off than keep them in jail?
    Hardly, the Singaporeans also have a very high imprisonment rate – 388
    per 100,000 population according to current British Home Office
    figures. Australia’s imprisonment rate is 115 per 100,000, Britain’s is
    141, the highest in the European Union.

    The USA has not only
    the world’s largest prison population (now more than two million) but
    also the highest imprisonment rate (701 per 100,000). Russia comes
    second at 606. The US imprisonment rate is so high it probably skews US
    unemployment figures, making them look better than they really are.