China spearheads surge in state-sponsored executions

24Mar09

death-roworiginally published: 24th March 2009

Death sentences handed down by China for crimes including tax evasion and bag-snatching represented three-quarters of the 2,390 executions carried out around the world, up from 1,252 in 2007.

China’s resumption of its death penalty programme comes after a dip in executions during the lead up to the Beijing Olympics that were held last year. But other countries also showed a renewed commitment to state executions. Amnesty said that Iraq, which last year executed at least 34 people, is set to put to death another 128 prisoners, reportedly in batches of 20 at a time.

Japan executed the highest number of people for more than 30 years and Iran killed eight prisoners who were under 18 at the time of the offence. A further 8,864 prisoners were sentenced to death in 52 countries.

Human rights groups warned that the figures, the highest in five years, are worrying evidence of a political willingness to carry out executions in the face of strong international condemnation.

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