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  1. ITV Report

Executions decrease and signs show death penalty use fading

An inmate on death row is led out of his cell Credit: AP

The number of state sanctioned executions being carried out last year has decreased dramatically since 2015, Amnesty International has said in their annual report on death sentences and executions.

At least 1,032 people were executed in 2016, compared to 1,634 the previous year.

In the US, there were just 20 executions last year, which is a record low for the country which normally features in the top five countries for executions.

The number of people sentenced to death last year in the US was just 32, reaching its lowest point since 1973.

Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International, said: "The steady decline in the use of the death penalty in the USA is a sign of hope for activists who have long campaigned for an end to capital punishment.

"The debate is clearly shifting. Politicians should steer clear of the ugly ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric that helped drive a spike in executions in the 1980s and 1990s.

"The death penalty is not going to make anyone any safer."

China is believed to be responsible for more executions than all other countries Credit: AP

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan together carried out a large majority (86%) of the executions in 2016.

Notably, the figures do not include China, since the country keeps the number of executions secret, but the international charity believes that China is responsible for more executions than all other countries put together.

Salil Shetty said: "China wants to be a leader on the world stage, but when it comes to the death penalty it is leading in the worst possible way - executing more people annually than any other country in the world.

"It is high time for China to lift the veil on this deadly secret and finally come clean about its death penalty system."

The report also said that progress had been made last year, with two countries - Benin and Nauru - abolishing the death penalty for all crimes.

Additionally, Guinea abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.