World execution numbers fall
Number of people executed in Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan rises despite overall decline, Amnesty international says.
Friday April 27, 2007
The number of people executed in Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan rose in 2006 as those countries bucked an overall trend towards fewer executions, a report said today.
In its annual report on the death penalty, the human rights group Amnesty International said at least 1,591 people were executed last year, down from 2,148 the year before.
"Last year saw a slight drop in execution numbers - but it was another grim death toll around the world and we are particularly concerned about a disturbing 'revival' of executions in countries like Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan," Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International UK, said.
In Iran, the number of executions almost doubled to 177 from 94, possibly linked to a crackdown on Baluchis. One-third of those executed came from this minority group.
Eight-two people were put to death in Pakistan - up from 31 in 2005 - while the number of people on death row stands at 7,000, the highest in the world.
Iraq executed 65 people, up from three in 2006. The Iraqi government reintroduced the death penalty after it had been suspended by the US-controlled provisional authority, claiming the move was a necessary deterrent because of the country's grave security situation.
Amnesty challenged that claim, saying the security situation had continued to decline even as the number of executions rose rapidly.
In Sudan, the number of executions went from zero to 65, possibly linked to a harshening political situation.
China once again topped the list with 1,101, although Amnesty said the true figure could be as high as 7,500 to 8,000 because official statistics remain a state secret.
Particularly horrific executions included that of one man in Somalia who was publicly stabbed to death after being hooded and tied to a stake, while a man was found to be still alive and moving after being hanged in Sri Lanka.
However, the execution of an 18-year-old in Iran was stopped with the noose already around his neck after he was allowed to play a flute as a last request. His family then decided to spare his life.
"Capital punishment is always cruel and unnecessary, and doesn't deter crime," Ms Allen said.
"Many of the thousands of prisoners awaiting execution around the world have also endured torture, unfair trials and the misery of death row. We urgently need to see death penalty governments issuing bans on all imminent executions."