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Executions up in 2011 - Amnesty

posted 27 Mar 2012, 06:11 by Mpelembe   [ updated 27 Mar 2012, 06:11 ]

The number of executions carried out around the world jumped last year, largely due to a surge in use of the death penalty in the Middle East, despite more and more countries banning the practice. Travis Brecher reports.

AMNESTY DEATH PENALTY - Globally, the number of countries that carry out the death penalty is falling.

But those that do execute are doing so at an "alarming rate", according to a new report released on Tuesday by Amnesty International.

When the human rights group first started tracking annual death penalty rates 35 years ago, 140 countries out 198 had execution as a punishment.

In 2011, just 20 countries still carried out executions.


"Last year we had only 20 countries execute people, the sort of state sponsored murder as we call it, and so that is good news. Compared to even a decade ago it is a third lower."

Methods of execution last year included beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

The biggest executors were China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United States.


"The problem is that we have a handful of countries who have consistently have had the largest number of executions and that persists and some of them have actually increased at an alarming rate. China and Iran are simply off the charts, they are the two biggest. But then you have North Korea, you have Saudi Arabia and unfortunately you have the United States in that group, strangely enough."

Amnesty said at least 676 people were executed worldwide in 2011.

But that number doesn't include the thousands of executions it believes were carried out in China.

Beijing refuses to publish its death penalty rates, saying they are a state secret.

In the Middle East, Amnesty reports a steep rise in recorded executions - up almost 50 percent since last year.

Ninety-nine percent of those took place in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen.

The United States was again the only country in the Americas, and the only G8 country, to execute prisoners.

Travis Brecher, Reuters