The number of death sentences handed out across the world rose by more than a quarter last year compared to the previous year, a report by Amnesty International has found.
The human right’s organisation found 2,466 death sentences were handed out in 2014, up by 28 per cent from 1,925 in 2013. This spike was attributed to the mass death sentences delivered in Egypt and Nigeria, when Nigerian courts issued 659 death sentences and Egypt handed out at least 509 death sentences – 400 more than the previous year.
Overall, there are more than 19,000 people on death row globally, including Mohammad Asghar, a mentally-ill British grandfather in his 70s.
Mr Asghar was sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy in January 2014. British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford is also on death row in Indonesia following a 2013 drug trafficking conviction for cocaine discovered in her suitcase.
The report, Death sentences and Executions 2014, recorded the number of death sentences given in 22 countries in 2014. Their report does not include figures for China as it does not publicly release execution figures, but it is believed to have executed thousands of people.
However, fewer actual executions were carried out in comparison to 2013, with 607 recorded in total. The number of publicly disclosed executions totalled 778 in 2013.
Aside from China, Iran at 289 officially recorded, Saudi Arabia at at least 90 and the US at 35 continue to execute the highest number of people. Iran is believed to have carried out a further 545 executions but refuses to acknowledge them.
Their methods include lethal injection in America, hanging in Iran and beheading in Saudi Arabia.
Amnesty’s secretary general, Salil Shetty, said: "In a year when abhorrent summary executions by armed groups were branded on the global consciousness like never before, it is appalling that governments are themselves resorting to more executions in a knee-jerk reaction to combat terrorism and crime.
"It is shameful that so many states around the world are essentially playing with people's lives - putting people to death for 'terrorism' or to quell internal instability on the ill-conceived premise of deterrence."
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