The world witnessed a drop in execution figures last year, from at least 993 in 2017 to at least 690 in 2018, Amnesty International has said in its annual review of countries using the death penalty.
A total of 2,531 death sentences were imposed in 54 countries in 2018, decreasing from 2,591 recorded worldwide in 2017, a report that was published on Wednesday by the UK-based rights group said.
China remained the world’s top executioner, however, the true extent of the use of the death penalty in the country is unknown as this data is classified as a state secret, Amnesty said. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Iraq followed China, accounting for 78 per cent of total reported executions.
“The dramatic global fall in executions proves that even the most unlikely countries are starting to change their ways and realize the death penalty is not the answer,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“Despite regressive steps from some, the number of executions carried out by several of the worst perpetrators has fallen significantly. This is a hopeful indication that it’s only a matter of time before this cruel punishment is consigned to history, where it belongs.”
In Africa, progress was made against the use of the death penalty last year, with some countries taking effective steps to end the use of the “cruel” and “inhuman” punishment, Amnesty said.
Burkina Faso abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes in June while
The continent witnessed executions from the following countries – four in sub-Saharan Africa and one in North Africa: