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Iran and Iraq drive 15% global rise in executions

The Amnesty International report counted more than 23,000 people on death row worldwide as of the end of 2013.

Source : France24 with AP / 02 Apr 2014

The number of known executions around the world rose almost 15 percent in 2013, with the spike due in part to more executions in Iran and Iraq, a new Amnesty International report says.

The report released by the London-based rights group on Wednesday comes on the heels of a decision this week by an Egyptian court to sentence to death 529 alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group has called the action “grotesque”.

The new report said the 778 judicial executions in 22 countries the group was able to verify last year do not include the thousands of people put to death in China, where such information is a state secret.

Last year’s global increase is due in part to more executions in Iran and Iraq, followed by Saudi Arabia, the report said. The number of officially acknowledged executions in Iran was at least 369, but the rights group said “credible sources” reported 335 more. The group said Iraq executed at least 169 people.

Exact numbers of executions in chaotic Syria and Egypt could not be confirmed.

Most executions in China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia

“We oppose the death penalty in all cases, without exception,” Jose Luis Diaz, Amnesty International’s representative at the United Nations, told reporters Wednesday. “It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

The Amnesty International report counted more than 23,000 people on death row worldwide as of the end of 2013. It also counted at least 1,925 people sentenced to death in 57 countries last year, up from the year before.

The rights group pointed out that roughly one in 10 countries carry out executions, while 140 countries are against the death penalty either in law or actions.

The report found reason for optimism in the fact that the “data demonstrate that the trend is still firmly towards abolition”.

“Excluding China, almost 80 percent of all known executions worldwide were recorded in only three countries: Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia,” the report read.

Both Europe and Central Asia had no reported executions, the first time since 2009.

Executions down in US, but Texas worst offender

The number of people put to death in the US, the only country in North or South America to carry out executions in 2013, continued to go down, the report said. It executed 39 people last year, down four from 2012. More than 40 percent were by the state of Texas.

On the other hand, the rights group was alarmed by four countries that resumed executions after a pause of a year or more: Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Vietnam.

The report also denounced “confessions" that were possibly extracted through torture of other ill-treatment”, pointing out that and often, pre-execution interrogations and investigations “did not meet international fair trial standards”.

Executions in 2013 were recorded for crimes including adultery, in Saudi Arabia; blasphemy, in Pakistan; economic crimes in China, North Korea and Vietnam; and reportedly in North Korea for pornography, escaping to China and watching banned videos from South Korea, Amnesty International said.

The report listed the countries where public executions were known to occur: Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.

It also listed the known methods of execution, including beheading in Saudi Arabia, electrocution in the US and lethal injection in China, Vietnam and the US.

Several countries were listed as using hanging and shooting.


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