Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is among the latest executives to sign on to a global pledge against capital punishment first launched by Virgin Group founder Richard Branson earlier this year.
Sandberg, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Unilever CEO Alan Jope added their names to a list of more than 40 global business leaders who have joined the Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty campaign.
“I oppose the death penalty because it is cruel and disproportionately impacts people and communities of colour,” Sandberg said in a news release issued by the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice. “We can build a more just future by ending the death penalty and reforming our broken criminal justice system.”
At least 483 people were executed in 18 countries in 2020, with four countries — Iran, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — accounting for 88 percent of known executions, according to Amnesty International. Seventeen people were executed in the United States in 2020.
The total number of executions cited by Amnesty International does not include the thousands of people that Amnesty International believes were executed in China, where death penalty data is classified as a state secret.
At least 28,567 people are known to be on death row around the world, and at least 1,477 people were sentenced to death in 54 countries in 2020, Amnesty International found.
While both the number of executions and death sentences fell last year due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, capital punishment remains a human rights issue around the world.
Opponents of the death penalty say it is inhumane, discriminatory and often used as a political tool or in flawed criminal justice systems. Methods of execution vary by country but include such practices as beheading, hanging, shooting, lethal injection and use of the electric chair.