Thousands Of People Were Executed Last Year As Global Execution Rate Rose Up To 15%

China still executes more people than every other country combined, but the Global Execution Rate went up last year too.

According to the Death Sentences and Executions 2013 report by Amnesty International, "thousands" of people were executed in 2013, followed by 369 in Iran and 169 in Iraq

Excluding China - where figures are a state secret - at least 778 executions were known to have been carried out in 2013

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The number of known executions around the world rose almost 15 percent in 2013, and the United States was among the five countries putting the most people to death, a new report by Amnesty International shows.

The real figure may be even higher because Amnesty's total does not include the thousands of executions that it says occur secretly in China

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Beijing is thought to have killed thousands of its own citizens, more than the rest of the world put together, the London-based human rights organisation said. But the charity's annual report on death sentences and executions worldwide said the Chinese authorities "continue to treat the figures on death sentences and executions as a state secret".

"We need really to spotlight China's secrecy around the death penalty," Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty's director of global issues told AFP. "The authorities in China said that since 2007 they have reduced the use of the death penalty. So our challenge to them is if you have, publish the data and show us," she said.

The US is the only country in the Americas that carried out executions in 2013

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Although Beijing said in November it would reduce the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty from the current 55, it still led the top five countries using the death penalty in 2013, followed by Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The group criticised Malaysia for continuing to carry out executions in secrecy, in direct violation of international standards

A total of 441 persons had been sentenced to death since 1960 while another 696 are waiting for execution of their death sentences in Malaysian prisons.

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"Only one in 10 countries worldwide used the death penalty last year," said executive director Shamini Darshni. "It is shameful that Malaysia is still part of this isolated group where judicial systems are used to kill people."

One person was executed for murder while the other was for drug trafficking. Both executions were shrouded in secrecy. She said that there were at least two executions which were known to have taken place in Malaysia last year.

"Authorities did not make any public announcement about the imminent executions nor were there any posthumous information about the executed individuals," Shamini said. There was also a notable rise in death sentences imposed last year compared to 2012, Amnesty International found in its annual review of the death penalty globally. "Last year's executions were disappointing because there had been genuine progress towards abolishing the death penalty in Malaysia," Shamini said.

She urged Putrajaya to review the law on mandatory death sentences for drug offences, as had been promised in 2012. "The secrecy around executions in Malaysia has allowed Putrajaya to effectively kill individuals without public scrutiny," she said. "Transparency is a safeguard of due process. But Putrajaya seems to be trying to hide its human rights abuses from the world."

The state of Texas accounted for 41 per cent of all executions carried out in the US

This is how inmates in Texas are put to death in a lethal injection chamber.

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The state of Texas accounted for 41 per cent of all executions, while Maryland became the 18th US state to abolish the death penalty. Three countries in the region - Grenada, Guatemala and Saint Lucia - reported empty death rows for the first time since Amnesty began keeping records in 1980.

The report highlighted a “sharp spike” in the number of people executed in 2013 when compared to the previous year, with publicly disclosed executions last year totalling 778, compared with 682 in 2012

According to a new study by Amnesty International, the amount of executions around the world has risen almost 15 percent.

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Excluding China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia accounted for 80 per cent of all executions in 2013. "The killing sprees we saw in countries like Iran and Iraq were shameful," Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General, said in a statement. “Only a small number of countries carried out the vast majority of these senseless state-sponsored killings."

It listed the known methods of execution, including beheading in Saudi Arabia, electrocution in the US and lethal injection in China, Vietnam and the US. Several countries were listed as using hanging and shooting.

This is how some countries around the world choose to kill people

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Europe, however, remained execution free in 2013 for the first time since 2009, although Belarus - the only country to still enforce the death penalty - sentenced four people to death. At least 23,000 people were on death row across the world as of the end of 2013. It also counted 1,925 people sentenced to death in 57 countries last year, up from the year before.

"We oppose the death penalty in all cases, without exception," Jose Luis Diaz, the group's representative at the United Nations, said on Wednesday. "It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment."

There were even public executions in Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and Somalia in 2013. Saudi authorities attracted more condemnation by putting three juveniles to death last year.

In Iran, some inmates are executed in public displays

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People received capital punishment for offences that did not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold, such as international killing, says the report. “Crimes” included adultery, sodomy, blasphemy, aggravated robbery and drug-related and economic offences.

Treason, acts against national security, collaboration with a foreign entity and crimes against the state – regardless of whether such offences led to loss of life – were also punishable by death, according to the survey. North Korea is believed to have put people to death for watching banned videos from South Korea.

Despite the alarming development, Amnesty International confirms that the international trend is firmly heading toward the abolition of capital punishment. WATCH this video made by Amnesty International that explains the entire situation in detail:

The report came just days after an Egyptian court sentenced to death 529 alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood after a two-session trial. The London-based rights group has called the action "grotesque."

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