Amnesty International Says Judicial Executions Declined In 2016

It is estimated that China executes thousands of people, but Beijing does not release statistics and considers the number of death sentences to be a state secret.

It says at least 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries, excluding China, a 37% drop on past year.

In summary, Amnesty's report shows that executions in 2016 took place as follows: China (unknown but believed to be thousands), Iran (567+), Saudi Arabia (154+), Iraq (88+), Pakistan (87+), Egypt (44+), US (20), Somalia (14), Bangladesh (10), Malaysia (9), Afghanistan (6), Belarus (4+), Indonesia (4), Singapore (4), Japan (3), Nigeria (3), Palestinian Authority (3), Sudan (2), Botswana (1), Taiwan (1), North Korea (unknown), South Sudan (unknown), Vietnam (unknown).

China remained the world's top executioner in 2016 while Vietnam has joined the top five executing countries, according to Amnesty International.

The group estimated that several thousand people were put to death past year, without detailing how it arrived at that estimate.

So it is in part due to supply shortages that the U.S., for the first time since 2006, is a no-show among the five nations that carry out the highest number of executions worldwide.

Maldives and the Philippines took steps in the wrong direction towards the resumptions of executions after more than six decades and the reintroduction of the death penalty, respectively.

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According to a white paper on progress in judicial protection of rights published by the State Council last September, courts should strictly control and use executions cautiously.

Most executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan - in that order. Still, 2016 marked the eighth consecutive year in which the country was unique in the Americas for executing prisoners.

"The reality is that many of those executed across the region are from poor and marginalised communities, in hundreds of cases sentenced to death for non-violent crimes".

Nigeria handed down an astonishing 527 death sentences in 2016, three times more than the previous year, in what Amnesty International described Tuesday as a "massive and worrying spike".

In 2016, two countries - Benin and Nauru- abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes.

Mr Nee lauded China for introducing reforms to uphold transparency, such as the Supreme Court, which approves death penalty sentences, launching a website in 2013 called "China Judgment Online".

The United States was not among the global leaders, the first time since 2006, falling to seventh place behind Egypt.

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The high number reported in 2015 followed the lifting of a seven-year moratorium on executions in December 2014 in response to a deadly Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar.

Some northern states practise sharia law, which imposes capital punishment for adultery, rape and homosexuality.

China outranks Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan and Vietnam, while putting to death more people annually that all other countries combined. This appears to be in line with findings of previous studies carried out by Chinese scholars that show that only a handful of crimes constitute the majority of death sentences in practice.

Pakistan had recorded 326 executions in 2015, but this dropped significantly to 87 past year. Together these two states were responsible for the 80% of all executions in the country during the year.

The drop in executions in Pakistan impacted the overall figures of Asia Pacific.

But Amnesty cautioned that the drop in the US can partly be attributed to legal challenges over the way lethal injections are carried out, and that when those cases are resolved there could be a jump in the number of people put to death. But 2015 was the highest for almost 30 years.

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