During 2008, at least 2,390 people were known to have been executed and at least 8,864 people were sentenced to death around the world. As in previous years, a large number of death sentences were handed down in trials that failed to meet internationally recognised standards of fairness.
An alarming number of executions were carried out after proceedings that relied upon confessions solicited through torture, in violation of international law.
In 2008, Amnesty International vocally campaigned to stop all executions and urged governments to take concrete steps towards the abolition of the death penalty. Members of Amnesty International called upon United Nations member states to vote in favour of a second resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with a view to total abolition of the death penalty.
The successful adoption of the second moratorium resolution by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2008 is a powerful and timely reassertion of the international commitment to work towards abolition of the death penalty.
Amnesty International has campaigned for the total abolition of the death penalty since 1977, as it violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The organization believes that the death penalty legitimizes an irreversible act of violence by the state.