‘China tops list of executions’

London: China has earned the dubious distinction of accounting for more executions that the rest of the world put together in 2011, Amensty International said on Tuesday.

In a report, it said there has been a surge in the number of executions during 2011, which was mainly centred in the Middle East, with Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia being most responsible for the increase. It also noted that China executed more people than the rest of the world put together.

The number of countries carrying out death penalties, however, had come down by a third, compared to a decade ago. Only 10 per cent of countries in the world, 20 out of 198, carried out executions last year.

People were executed or sentenced to death for a range of offences including adultery and sodomy in Iran, blasphemy in Pakistan, sorcery in Saudi Arabia, the trafficking of human bones in the Republic of Congo, and drug offences in more than 10 countries. Methods of execution in 2011 included beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting, Amnesty said in a release.

Some 18,750 people remained under sentence of death at the end of 2011 and at least 676 people were executed worldwide. But the figures do not include the thousands of executions that Amnesty International believes were carried out in China, where the numbers are suppressed, it said.

“The vast majority of countries have moved away from using the death penalty,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. He added: “Our message to the leaders of the isolated minority of countries that continue to execute is clear: you are out of step with the rest of the world on this issue and it is time you took steps to end this most cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

Amnesty said that thousands of people were executed in China in 2011, more than the rest of the world put together. Amnesty said it had stopped publishing figures it collects from public sources in China as these are likely to grossly underestimate the true number.

The organisation renewed its challenge to the Chinese authorities to publish data on those executed and sentenced to death, in order to confirm their claims that various changes in law and practice have led to a significant reduction in the use of the death penalty in the country over the last four years.

“Even among the small group of countries that executed in 2011, we can see gradual progress. These are small steps but such incremental measures have been shown ultimately to lead to the end of the death penalty,” said Shetty. He added: “It is not going to happen overnight but we are determined that we will see the day when the death penalty is consigned to history.” (PTI)

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