Executions in China Said to Outpace World Despite Decline

Breakdown of death sentences issued excluding China. Source Amnesty International

Breakdown of death sentences issued excluding China. Source Amnesty International

The United States did not make the top five for the first time since 2006. The 20 executions in the US was the lowest in the country since 1991.

Chiara Sangiorgio, an advisor to Amnesty's death penalty research team, told RFE/RL there also are increasingly worrying efforts by authorities in some countries to hide the scale of executions that are carried out.

"At its best the United Kingdom does some very important work in encouraging countries to end capital punishment, but with death sentences running at record levels around the world now is not the time to go quiet on the issue".

"The massive and worrying spike in death sentences recorded in Nigeria in 2016 put the country at odds with the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty", Amnesty International said in a statement.

Moreover, Benin and Nauru joined 102 other nations to abolish the death penalty in law for all crimes.

Overall, 141 countries in the world are now "abolitionist", having either completely abolished capital punishment or effectively no longer using it. Back in 1997, that figure was 64. He kidnapped and killed a boy - a crime punishable by death.

At least 1,032 people were executed in 2016.

Arkansas hasn't carried out an execution for 12 years, but its remaining stock of the chemical midazolam (used in lethal injection executions) is reportedly set to expire at the end of April, apparently leading to the scheduled 11-day spate of executions.

Most executions in Iran during 2016 were by hanging.

In Iran, at least two known cases of execution had taken place where a juvenile was executed.

The number of executions (20) in 2016 reached the lowest level recorded in any year since 1991, half what it was in 1996, and nearly five times lower than in 1999. This rate of executions is half that of 2007, a third that of 1997.

The number of people executed in Egypt doubled in 2016, from 22 to 44.

The estimates contradict official state figures, which put the number of executions at 85 between 2014 and 2016. At the end of the year, 18,848 people were on death row.

Amnesty said a fall in the number of executions worldwide was largely driven by fewer deaths recorded in Iran and Pakistan. This is the lowest number recorded since 1973. That would destroy any hopes the country still has of joining the European Union, as the death penalty is a red line that bars candidate countries from securing membership.

Jordan's execution of 15 prisoners has provoked "indignation" from Council of Europe leader Pedro Agramunt, who insisted the Arab kingdom remains committed to maintaining a moratorium on the death penalty.

Historically, the death penalty has played a big role in the country, with capital punishment one of the Five Punishments during Dynastic China.

The ranking does not include Vietnam, because the country did not provide yearly breakdowns, instead providing data from August 2013 to June 2016. China, for example, is thought to have executed more than all of the other countries combined - yet the exact figure hasn't been included because of a lack of reliable data.

Government officials did not immediately comment on Amnesty's report. This is linked to considerable increases in these figures for Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand, with the Thai authorities providing Amnesty International with a full figure of 216 new death sentences for the first time in recent years.

Notably, the figures do not include China, since the country keeps the number of executions secret, but the worldwide charity believes that China is responsible for more executions than all other countries put together.

In some cases, the report says, men were executed after confessing to crimes that had occurred months after they had been arrested.

Europe and Central Asia: Belarus and Kazakhstan are the only two nations in the region to impose death sentences. At least 33 public executions were carried out in Iran and several in North Korea.

San Diego State coach Steve Fisher retires
US, Mexico, Canada launch joint football World Cup bid