Executions fall around world – but not in China

The number of recorded executions globally has fallen, but there are concerns that China continues to impose more unrecorded death sentences than any other country.

An Amnesty International report suggests capital punishment in China often occurs undetected, with executions thought to run into thousands every year. After China, Iran is thought to have carried out the most executions (at least 252). It was followed by North Korea (at least 60), Yemen (at least 53), the US (46), and Saudi Arabia (at least 27). At least 2,024 new death sentences were imposed during 2010 in 67 countries, including 365 in Pakistan alone.

The charity expressed concern that many of the sentences recorded were for drug-related offences, while Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and the UAE ignored international prohibitions and imposed death sentences on child offenders.

But the charity's Death Sentences and Executions in 2010 report suggested more than 30 countries had abolished capital punishment in the last decade. Last year there were 527 executions in 23 countries, down from 714 in 2009.

Salil Shetty, the Amnesty International secretary general, said: "While executions may be on the decline, a number of countries continue to pass death sentences for drug-related offences, economic crimes, sexual relations between consenting adults, and blasphemy – violating international human rights law. Any country that continues to execute is flying in the face of the fact that both human rights law and UN human rights bodies consistently hold that abolition should be the objective."

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