Amnesty International has released its annual report on the use of capital punishment worldwide, naming China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. as the countries with the highest number of executions.
In its latest report on the use of the death penalty worldwide, Amnesty International says at least 714 people were executed in 18 countries last year, and some 2,000 people were handed death sentences in 56 countries.
However, Amnesty says these figures show a welcome move towards the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.
But the report does not specify the number of executions in China, which Amnesty believes to be in the thousands.
In addition to China, the report cites Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States as the countries with the highest number of executions in 2009. The estimated figures were 388 for Iran, 120 for Iraq, 69 for Saudi Arabia and 52 for the United States.
Unclear signs from Beijing
The report claims that more people are put to death in China than in the rest of the world altogether, and that the statistics made public by the country “grossly under-represent” the actual numbers.
Information on the death penalty is a state secret in China, but authorities say that fewer executions are taking place. Last year, China’s highest court called for the death penalty to be used less often and to be reserved only for the most serious offences.