Saturday 1 October 2016

Executions worldwide reached 25-year high in 2015, says Amnesty

Michelle Martin

Published 07/04/2016 | 02:30

The execution chamber where Ronnie Lee Gardner was shot by a firing squad at the Utah State Prison in the US in 2010 Photo: Reuters
The execution chamber where Ronnie Lee Gardner was shot by a firing squad at the Utah State Prison in the US in 2010 Photo: Reuters

There were more executions worldwide in 2015 than in any year since 1990 and almost 90pc occurred in three countries - Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Amnesty International said yesterday.

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At least 1,634 people were executed last year, the human rights watchdog said, adding that the actual number was probably significantly higher given that there are no definitive numbers for China.

"The number of known executions rose by more than 50pc compared with 2014 - this development is unsettling and alarming," said Oliver Hendrich, an expert on capital punishment at Amnesty International in Germany.

At least 977 people were executed in Iran last year, mostly for drug crimes, Amnesty said, while more than 320 death sentences were carried out in Pakistan and at least 158 people were executed in Saudi Arabia.

In the United States, 28 people were executed last year - the lowest number since 1991, Amnesty said.

China is believed to remain the world's top executioner, with the number of people put to death annually in the thousands, though the exact figure is a state secret.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked about the report, said Amnesty often released "unfair" statements about China that lacked objectivity.

Countries that impose the death penalty are in the minority for the first time now, Amnesty said.

It added that 102 countries had got rid of the death penalty for all crimes by the end of 2015, compared with 60 countries in 1996.

Irish Independent

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