China named 'world’s top executioner' as global rate falls
Amnesty says more people executed in China than rest of world combined but sub-Saharan Africa is a ‘beacon of hope’
China remains the “world’s top executioner” amid a decline in executions worldwide, Amnesty International has said in its annual report on capital punishment.
According to the report, released on Thursday, China implemented “more death sentences than the rest of the world combined”. Amnesty believes thousands of executions and death sentences occurred in 2017 in China, where they are considered a state secret.
China aside, executions worldwide dropped again in 2017, with at least 993 recorded in 23 countries – down 4% from 2016 and 39% from 2015.
At least 2,591 death sentences were recorded in 53 countries in 2017 – down from a record high of 3,117 in 2016 – and at least 21,919 people are known to be under a death sentence, Amnesty said.
The human rights group said the “positive trend” towards ending capital punishment was exemplified by sub-Saharan Africa, where 20 countries have now abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Just two countries in the region, Somalia and South Sudan, carried out executions last year.
“The progress in sub-Saharan Africa reinforced its position as a beacon of hope for abolition,” the Amnesty International secretary general, Salil Shetty, said.
Excluding China, 84% of the reported executions last year were carried out in just four countries: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan. Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates resumed executions in 2017.
Iran has the highest known figure despite an 11% drop on 2016, executing at least 507 people, with at least 31 death sentences carried out in public.
The US remained the only country in the Americas to carry out executions, with 23 last year, up slightly from the year before.
Shetty said with the progress in Africa, “the isolation of the world’s remaining executing countries could not be starker”.
But Amnesty said the continued use of the death penalty for drug-related offences was “distressing”, with 15 countries last year imposing death sentences or carrying out executions.
Drug-related executions were recorded in China, Iran, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, where “drug-related beheadings rocketed from 16% of total executions in 2016 to 40” in 2017.
The US was noted for putting people on death row who have mental or intellectual disabilities, a criticism also levelled against Japan, the Maldives, Pakistan and Singapore.
Source: The Guardian
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