Countries Where Public Executions Are Still Held

Although gallows may be common in history, in most areas in the world they are no longer socially acceptable.
Although gallows may be common in history, in most areas in the world they are no longer socially acceptable.

Public execution is a form of punishment carried out publicly. Mostly this kind of punishment is done by killing an offender in front of the public for the crime committed. As per the report by Amnesty International in 2012, countries including North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Somalia still practices public execution.



In Iran, this form of punishment occurred following the foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the year 1979, the regime of Qajar dynasty and Phlavic dynasty. During the Qajar dynasty regime which was between the years 1785-1925, the punishment was carried out in forms which included hanging of criminals, hitting offenders against the walls, having candles burning on every cut, stifling someone in a carpet.

In the Phlavic’s dynasty regime, this form of punishment occurred with the watch of the public. Public execution was rampant in Iran from 1925-1979. The penalty typically occurred through hanging. During hanging, criminals stood on a platform in presences of the public before their death. Although Iran said it abolished public executions in 2008, the media still reports some cases to date.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is said to still practice public executions. According to the sharia law followed in Saudi Arabia, public execution is a legal form of punishment. By the year 2011 according to the Saudi government, 26 cases of capital execution were reported. The number rose in 2013 to 79 cases as per the report by Amnesty International. Over the years, the number of cases of public execution increased to 157 in the year 2015 and only on the year 2016, 47 cases of public execution were reported to occur on a single date that is on January 2, 2016. International states condemn this act of capital punishment.

North Korea

North Korea is ranked among the last six nations who still carry out public executions. Here, public execution is considered as an accepted form of punishment for many offenses including murder, rape, usage of harmful drugs, etc. According to reports, North Korea adopted capital executions in 2007 after abandoning it in the year 2000 due to criticism from other countries. In the year 2009, 1,193 cases of public execution were reported, and this kind of punishment has increased over time. Estimates show there were 60 executions in 2010.However, on November 3, 2013, JoongAng IIbo came with a report showing 80 people killed of small cases. According to Amnesty International, North Korea’s political prisons were a hotbed of public execution.


Public execution is considered legal in Somalia. Here the execution is usually done through the firing squad. This form of punishment is for capital offenses such as treason and mutiny. In the year 2011 three soldiers were executed in Somalia, and there have been reports of some more cases to date.


Despite the criticism by international organizations and bodies, the public prosecution does not seem to be diminishing anytime soon in the countries above, but instead, it appears to be taking an upward trend. The constant increase in the number of casualties associated with the adoption and use of Islamic laws by these countries. However, this act of punishment has been widely condemned by most nations as being a violation of human rights.

Countries Where Public Executions Are Still Held

RankPublic Executions Still Held
2North Korea
3Saudia Arabia

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