Report: Executions rise in 2013, China tops the list
By Sophie Brown, CNN
updated 4:16 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
(CNN) -- Virtual "killing sprees" in Iran and Iraq led to a spike in the number of executions globally last year, according to Amnesty International, at odds with a steady decline in the use of the death penalty around the world over the last two decades.
Executions by beheading, electrocution, firing squad, hanging and lethal injection rose by almost 15 percent in 2013 on the previous year, the organization said in its latest report on the death penalty released Thursday.
China executed more people than any other country last year. Although Chinese authorities treat official execution statistics as a state secret, Amnesty International estimates thousands are killed under the death penalty every year, more than the rest of the world combined.
Excluding China, executions rose to at least 778 last year, up from 682 in 2012.
Iran came in second, with at least 369 put to death by the state, followed by Iraq (169), Saudi Arabia (79), and the United States (39).
The United States was the only country in the Americas that performed executions, although use of the death penalty declined last year, to 39 executions from 43 in 2012. Texas accounted for more than 40 percent of all American executions.
In total, 22 countries practiced capital punishment last year, one more than in 2012. Four of those countries -- Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Vietnam -- resumed executions after a hiatus.
Amnesty International could not confirm if executions took place in countries in conflict, but said it "cannot be excluded" that executions took place in Syria and Egypt.
At the end of 2013, more than 23,000 people were on death row around the world.
"The virtual killing sprees we saw in countries like Iran and Iraq were shameful," Amnesty International's Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a statement.
He added, "those states who cling to the death penalty are on the wrong side of history and are, in fact, growing more and more isolated."Read more ...