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Global execution rates remain in long-term decline despite some worrying trends, says Amnesty

Death penalty rates around the world continued a downward trend last year, according to new research from Amnesty International, despite a resumption of executions in a number of countries and soaring rates in others.

PICTURE: Lou Oates/ (posed by model)

Amnesty found that 21 countries carried out the death penalty in 2012 – the same number as the previous year but well down on the 2003 figure of 28.

At least 682 executions were carried out, two more than in 2011, while at least 1,722 newly imposed death sentences in 58 countries could be confirmed, a figure significantly lower than the 1,923 confirmed death sentences in 63 countries the previous year. The figures do not include the “thousands” of executions Amnesty believes were carried out in China.

The top five countries for executions last year were China (where the number is believed to reach into the thousands), Iran (where 314 executions were officially acknowledged), Iraq (at least 129), Saudi Arabia (at least 79) and the US (43), where 17 states have now banned the death penalty.

Methods included hanging, beheading, firing squad and lethal injection while the range of crimes for which people were executed included drug and economic offences as well as apostasy, blasphemy and adultery.

Among worrying trends, said Amnesty, were the rise in executions in Iraq – from 68 in 2011 to at least 129 last year – and the resumption of executions in India, Japan, Pakistan and Gambia.

Latvia became the 97th country to remove the death penalty for all crimes.




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