China Still 'World's Top Executioner' As Global Death Penalty Rates Fall

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Amnesty International Malaysia interim executive director Gwen Lee presenting the Amnesty International report, "Death Sentences and Executions 2017".

Botswana and Sudan, however, reportedly resumed executions this year.

Shetty said that the continued use of the death penalty for drug-related crimes in some countries was troubling. According to the Department of Corrections, the state doesn't have the drugs required to carry out lethal injections.

FOX 44 - The death penalty will likely stay alive in Louisiana for the foreseeable future, after a state House panel struck down a bill to end the practice Wednesday.

China aside, executions worldwide dropped from 1,032 in 2016 to 993 a year ago - a decline of four per cent. Although the number of executions carried out and death sentences imposed in the USA in 2017 remained in the low trends seen in previous years, there was a slight increase in a resort to capital punishment compared to 2016.

The United States was the only country in the Americas to carry out executions in 2017.

Amnesty International on Thursday accused Japan's government of flouting international norms by executing in 2017 death row inmates who were seeking retrials. Instead, a few governors past year commuted dozens of death sentences to life imprisonment. Kenya, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Chad are all developing legislation that will follow suit.

In October a year ago, Pope Francis spoke about the Catholic Church's changed attitude towards capital punishment, saying "It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity". Texas remained the state with the highest number of executions, accounting for 30% of the national total.

"We believe the death penalty does not deter crime and these executions will do little to improve security in the country", the Amnesty adviser said.

Executions carried out around the world have fallen in numbers but death sentences for drug offences are on the rise, human rights activists have warned. "We're spending all of this effort on this bill when two people have been (executed) since 2000 and 25 are being killed today in abortion clinics".

Ms Kulak said a further 36 countries have abolished the death penalty in "law or practice" meaning while they have not officially scrapped the penalty, they are not performing any executions. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq are responsible for carrying out 85 percent of all reported death sentences worldwide, the report said. "Sometimes they have to kill because he has killed someone and in Islamic law, if you kill you, have to be killed", Adan said.

The men were executed by firing squad, and Amnesty said their lawyers did not have access to all of the evidence against them.

"We remain highly concerned about the continued practice of the death penalty [in Iran] in clear violation of protections established by global law and standards", Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International's adviser on the death penalty, told RFE/RL.

"We think that if the cult members are applying for a retrial, then the grounds for doing so must be considered given previous cases of unsound convictions", she said, adding that the group is "also concerned about several death row prisoners who are displaying symptoms of mental and intellectual disability".