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The Death Penalty Is Dying, Says Amnesty International
April 10, 2013
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The death penalty around the world is "becoming a thing of the past", according to Amnesty International's annual review.

More than two-thirds of the world's countries -140 - are now listed as either having abandoned the death penalty or are no longer implementing it.

As for the rest, Amnesty says at least 682 executions were carried out last year in 21 countries - two more than in 2011.

But overall, it says there's been progress toward abolishing capital punishment in "all regions of the world."

One encouraging sign, according to Amnesty, is that the number of newly-imposed death sentences has dropped. Last year, there were 1,722 which is down from 1,923 in
2011.

And overall last year, 21 countries practiced the death penalty - which is down from 28 countries in 2003.

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97 countries have now officially abolished the death penalty (the latest is Latvia) compared with 80 a decade ago.

"Only one of out every 10 countries in the world carries out executions," said Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International.

"Their leaders should ask themselves why they are still applying a cruel and inhumane punishment that the rest of the world is leaving behind."

Amnesty does point out that some countries resumed executions after a number of years including Gambia (9), Japan (7), Pakistan (1), and India (1).

As well, Amnesty highlights an "alarming" rise of executions in Iraq where the number almost doubled from 68 in 2011 to at least 129 in 2012. In 2010, Iraq acknowledged just one execution.

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Saddam Hussein protests as the death penalty is handed down in 2006

It's also important to point out that Amnesty's report does not include executions carried out in China, where the numbers are secret.

However, Amnesty believes China executed thousands of people last year - more than the rest of the world put together.

Syria is also not included in the report, because the civil war has made it virtually impossible to know how many executions took place.

And Amnesty said it couldn't confirm whether Egypt carried out executions because information was difficult to come by.

Here, according to the report, are the top five countries that carried out the most executions.

1 - China

2 - Iran (at least 314, although Amnesty believes the real number is more than 500)

3 - Iraq (at least 129)

4 - Saudi Arabia (at least 79)

5 - The United States (43)

The U.S. carried out the same number of executions as in 2011 but in fewer states (9 in 2012 vs. 13 in 2011).

The U.S. is also the only country in the Americas to practice the death penalty, although 17 states have abolished it (the latest is Connecticut).

Belarus is the only country in Europe and Central Asia with the death penalty, with at least three executions last year.

After the top five executing countries comes Yemen (28), Sudan( 19), Afghanistan (14) and Somalia (12).

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Chart: via the BBC

It's worth noting that Amnesty singled out Afghanistan, saying "confessions" were obtained through torture.

"Governments still executing have run out of arguments to justify themselves. There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate the death penalty works as a special deterrent against crime," Shetty said citing a major U.S. study.

"In 2012, we were once again very concerned to see countries executing for what appeared to be political purposes, either as a populist measure or as an outright tool of repression."

Amnesty said hanging, beheading, firing squad and lethal injection were among the methods used - with some people executed for "acts that should not be considered crimes at all" such as blasphemy, adultery and abandoning a religion.

More than 23,000 people were on death row worldwide at the end of 2012, according to the review.

You can read the full report right here.

via Radio Free Europe

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