China tops 2016 global executions, USA sees lowest number in decades

Breakdown of death sentences issued excluding China. Source Amnesty International

Breakdown of death sentences issued excluding China. Source Amnesty International

Excluding the executions carried out in China, Amnesty International recorded a 37 percent decrease in the number of executions carried out globally in 2016 as against 2015, which recorded the highest number of executions since 1989.

In fact, Sangiorgio said, China continues to be the world's top executioner, using the death penalty in 2016 more than all other countries in the world combined.

Farmers were more frequently sentenced to death than any other group in China, Amnesty said in a report that sought to lift the veil on the workings of the system.

The report also said that progress had been made a year ago, with two countries - Benin and Nauru - abolishing the death penalty for all crimes.

In the USA executions are at an historic low, with only 20 death sentences carried out in 2015 compared to 28 the year before, and five times lower than the turn of the century.

"Many MENA states justify their use of the death penalty by claiming that they are acting to counter grave security threats, despite there being no evidence that the death penalty deters violent crime", Lynch added. The number carried out in Georgia - nine - nearly doubled compared to 2015, while in Texas, the figure dropped from 13 to seven.

The number of death sentences across the world increased in 2016 (from 1,998 to 3,117) but this followed the release of information by countries like Thailand, who had previously not given information to Amnesty.

Commenting on the report, human rights group Reprieve said it was pleased about the overall reduction in executions.

"We will continue to back the United Nations global moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a first step towards ultimate abolition".

The database, which states the values of openness and transparency on its website banner, was launched in 2013. The figures were first revealed in Vietnamese media in February 2017, making the country secretly the world's third biggest executioner over the last three years, according to Amnesty.

At least 18,848 people were on death row at the end of 2016.

At least 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries previous year according to Amnesty's annual death penalty report. But the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is treated as a state secret.

In Malaysia and Viet Nam, new disclosures reveal that the scale of the executions in those countries was even higher than thought.

On the other hand, there was, according to Amnesty, also an increasing number of governments which made a decision to end the death penalty. The US, meanwhile, saw the lowest number of executions since 1991.

"With UK officials damping down their objections to the death penalty when it comes to countries like Saudi Arabia or Bahrain", Allen was reported saying in the Independent.

Be proactive - Use the "Flag as Inappropriate" link at the upper right corner of each comment to let us know of abusive posts. Still 20 people were put to death there, mostly by lethal injection.

Chinese legal scholar Hong Daode said 90 per cent of executions previous year were for homicide cases.

While the government has agreed to review drug laws in the country, it should also explore its options in entirely abolishing the death penalty, Shamini said.

However, Amnesty reports, despite regressive moves in some grounds, the global trend remains towards abolishing the death penalty.

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