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Report: Number of people executed by governments rose in 2013; USA continues to kill

NIT – The use of the death penalty as a form of punishment rose by almost 15% in 2013, compared with 2012.

According to a report from Amnesty International, at least 778 people were executed worldwide by governments (not including China, where figures are guarded and kept secret by the government). Nearly 80% of them were in just three countries: Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  2013 was marked by some challenging setbacks on the journey to abolition of the death penalty. Four countries – Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Viet Nam – resumed executions and there was a significant rise in the number of people executed during the year compared with 2012, driven primarily by increases in Iraq and Iran.

Despite setbacks during 2013, there was progress in all regions of the world, with positive moves towards abolition in several countries.

The USA remained the only country in the Americas to carry out executions in 2013.  The number of executions in the country continued to decrease, however. Maryland became the 18th abolitionist US state in May (New Hamsphire narrowly avoided abolishing the death penalty). No executions were reported in Europe and Central Asia last year.

The report from Amnesty International covers the judicial use of the death penalty for the period January to December 2013. Amnesty International records figures on the use of the death penalty based on the best available information. As in previous years, information is collected from a variety of sources, including official figures; information from individuals sentenced to death, and their families and representatives; reporting by other civil society organizations; and media reports. Amnesty International only reports figures on the use of the death penalty which can safely be inferred from its research.  As in previous years, the figures do not include the thousands of people executed in China; with the death penalty treated as a state secret the lack of reliable data does not allow Amnesty International to publish credible minimum figures for China.

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