Number of executions rises around the world

The number of people being executed around the world rose significantly in 2008 compared to the previous year, according to Amnesty International.
There were 2,390 executions worldwide last year, with an overwhelming 72 per cent of those being carried out in China (the host of the Olympics).
Japan executed highest number for over 30 years, while Belarus remains the “last executioner in Europe”.
Amnesty’s annual survey of global death penalty use shows at least 2,390 people were executed in 25 countries last year, up from 1,252 in 2007.
Methods used included beheading, hanging, stoning, lethal injection and electrocution.
Only 13 “hardcore” countries have executed prisoners every year for the last five years: Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Vietnam, USA and Yemen.
Amnesty said there was “comparatively good news” in that only one in eight countries (25) carried out executions last year and only slightly more than a quarter (59) even retain capital punishment.
China alone carried out nearly three-quarters of the world’s executions (1,718), and 10 other countries from Asia – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, North Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Singapore and Vietnam – also carried out judicial killings.
Japan carried out 15 executions, the highest number in the country since 1975.
The Middle East is the other world region notable for its reliance on capital punishment, with Iran (at least 346) and Saudi Arabia (at least 102) especially prone to carrying out executions.
Amnesty recently revealed that Iraq (which last year executed at least 34 people) is set to execute another 128 prisoners, reportedly in batches of 20 at a time.
Meanwhile Belarus, which executed four people last year, is shown to be the last executioner in Europe.
Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan said: “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Beheadings, electrocutions, hangings, lethal injections, shootings and stonings have no place in the twenty-first century.
“Capital punishment is not just an act but a legalised process of physical and psychological terror that culminates in people being killed by the state. It must be brought to an end.”
Amnesty’s report, which was launched today, emphasised the risk of executing innocent prisoners.
The USA released four people from death row last year, taking to 130 the number of death row exonerees since 1973.

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