TIME Capital Punishment

Global Executions Rise With Help From Iran and Iraq

China is still the world leader in executions

A steep rise in the number of people executed in Iran and Iraq caused the total number of executions worldwide to rise 15 percent last year, Amnesty International said Thursday.

Almost 80 percent of all known executions were recorded in only three countries: Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. In 2013, the number of executions in Iraq went up to 169, while Iran saw them rise to 369. At least 778 people were put to death in 2013, the rights group said, compared to 682 in 2012.

China is still thought to execute the most people, though exact numbers are kept secret.

Kuwait, Nigeria, Indonesia and Vietnam last year all resumed their use of capital punishment. But there has been a general decline in the total number of countries using capital punishment in the last 20 years. Many countries who executed people in 2012 did not do so in 2013, including Gambia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Salil Shetty, the Secretary-General for Amnesty International, described the statistics as “shameful,” but also said the small number of countries that carried out mass killings shows “the death penalty is becoming a thing of the past.”

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