Report: Global Executions on Rise
By NICOLE WINFIELD
ROME (AP) - More people were put to death last year - 5,628 than in
either of the previous two years, with China alone accounting for
5,000 executions, an anti-death penalty group reported Thursday.
The Rome-based Hands Off Cain said that while countries are
increasingly renouncing the death penalty, the overall number of
executions rose because more nations that have capital punishment on
their books actually used it in 2006.
In its annual report on the death penalty, Hands Off Cain said the
gradual trend of abolishing capital punishment continued, with 51
countries retaining the death penalty compared to 54 in 2005. But it
said 27 countries had resorted to the death penalty in 2006, up from
24 in 2005.
"More countries are becoming abolitionists, but where the death
penalty remains we see it applied more harshly," said Elisabetta
Zamparutti, the report's editor.
As a result, the number of executions increased, to at least 5,628
last year compared to 5,494 in 2005 and 5,530 in 2004.
Overall, 146 countries and territories have renounced the death
penalty to some extent, either through outright abolition or a
moratorium, Hands Off Cain said.
The report said China remained the top executioner, with unconfirmed
reports that as many as 8,000 people are put to death annually. The
report cited Chinese officials and academics as saying executions had
decreased, however ?in part because of a new amendment requiring the
Supreme Court to confirm all death sentences and for public hearings
Iran came in second in the group's top execution rankings. Hands Off
Cain said Tehran doubled the number of people it put to death in 2006,
executing at least 215 people compared to 113 in 2005, though it said
the real number may be even higher.
Zamparutti said the numbers on executions in China and Iran were based
on non-governmental agencies' accounts and news reports.
Pakistan also nearly doubled the number of executions in 2006, putting
at least 82 people to death last year compared to 42 the year earlier.
Hands Off Cain said both Iran and Pakistan executed minors in
violation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The United States was the only country in the Americas that carried
out a death sentence in 2006. Fifty-three people were executed in the
U.S. last year, down from 60 in 2005 and 59 in 2004, the group said.
Hands Off Cain gave an award Thursday to Rwandan President Paul Kagame
for his role in ending the death penalty in his country. Earlier this
year, the Rwandan government approved a bill abolishing capital
punishment, in part to encourage European and other countries to
extradite suspected masterminds of the country's 1994 genocide.
"It would be helpful if more commitment (to extradition) was shown
internationally," Kagame said at the awards ceremony in Rome.
Rwanda has also signed on as a co-sponsor to a U.N. General Assembly
resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions. Hands Off
Cain said it believed the U.N. resolution - which has failed in
previous years - now has enough support to pass.
On the Net:
* Hands Off Cain: http://www.handsoffcain.info
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