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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 00:01 GMT 01:01 UK
World executions double in a year
Chinese prisoner is led to execution
China leads the world in its use of the death penalty
The number of people shot, electrocuted and hanged by governments doubled last year, the human rights group Amnesty International says.

At least 3,048 state executions were carried out in 31 countries during 2001, more than twice the 1,457 killed the previous year, the organisation reported.


The figures for China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US accounted for 90% of all known executions in 2001

Amnesty International

The group attributed the surge in numbers to a crackdown on crime in China, which saw the country execute nearly 1,800 people in one four-month period.

China's total use of the death penalty in 2,468 cases was more than all the other countries combined.

"The figures for China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US accounted for 90% of all known executions in 2001," Amnesty said in a statement.

Uncertain totals

But the group also said there had been "significant progress" towards the abolition of the death penalty.

Chile had outlawed the death penalty for peacetime offences, while Bosnia and Yugoslavia had abolished it completely.


It is impossible to give a complete total because many countries deliberately keep the true numbers of those executed secret

Amnesty International

Amnesty stressed that the figures only included those executions reported by governments, and the actual number could be much higher.

Even so, it was the highest annual total since 1996 and the second highest in 20 years.

"It is impossible to give a complete total because many countries deliberately keep the true numbers of those executed secret, belying the supposed deterrent value of the death penalty," the organisation said in a statement.

The Amnesty statement called on the Geneva-based United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) to reiterate its call for a worldwide moratorium on state executions.

Amnesty recorded 139 executions in Iran last year, up from 75 in 2000, while the US total had decreased by 19 to 66.

See also:

06 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
China executions 'part of culture'
06 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
China 'outstrips world' on executions
27 Aug 98 | Asia-Pacific
Mass execution in China
11 Jun 01 | Americas
Death penalty worldwide
13 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Fiji to abolish death penalty
15 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo makes U-turn on death penalty
11 Mar 02 | UK
The great defender
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