In the death penalty league, China is way out in front, with Iran second and Pakistan third:
Even though more countries are renouncing the death penalty, more people were put to death last year - 5,628 - than in either of the previous two years, an anti-death penalty group reported yesterday.
China alone accounted for 5,000 executions.
A Rome-based group, Hands Off Cain, said the increase was because more countries that have capital punishment on their books resorted to it in 2006.
In its annual report, the group said the gradual trend of abolishing capital punishment continued, with 51 countries retaining the death penalty, compared with 54 in 2005. But it said 27 countries had used it in 2006, up from 24 in 2005. The number of executions increased to at least 5,628 compared with 5,494 in 2005 and 5,530 in 2004.
Hands Off Cain said 146 countries and territories have renounced the death penalty to some extent, either through outright abolition or a moratorium.
China remains the top executioner, with at least 5,000 confirmed and unconfirmed reports that as many as 8,000 people are put to death annually...
Iran came in second in the 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 with 113 in 2005, though it said the real number may be even higher.
Pakistan also nearly doubled the number of executions in 2006, putting at least 82 people to death last year compared with 42 the year earlier.
Hands Off Cain said both Iran and Pakistan executed minors, in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The United States remained the only country in the Americas that carried out a death sentence in 2006. Fifty-three people were executed in the US in 2006, down from 60 in 2005 and 59 in 2004, the group said.
Here's the Hands Off Cain report.
Of course the real figures are going to be a lot higher than that, as the report acknowledges. North Korea is credited with "at least 3" deaths. Burma doesn't feature at all.
There's been a hefty rise in Muslim countries:
In 2006, at least 541 executions, up from 302 the previous year, were carried out in 16 Muslim-majority countries, many of which were ordered by religious tribunals applying a strict interpretation of Sharia law...
Sentences of death by stoning were issued in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and in Iran, where at least three people were stoned to death in the period from 2006 to the first seven months of 2007. On June 5th 2006, Iranian websites reported that a man and a woman had been stoned to death three weeks earlier. On July 5th 2007, a man was stoned to death, after being convicted of adultery and having already spent 11 years in prison on the same charge.
Two men and a woman were stoned to death in Pakistan in 2007, but in a extra-judiciary case, tried by a tribal jury...
Beheading, as a method to carry out Sharia-based sentences, is exclusive to Saudi Arabia, the Islamic nation that follows the strictest interpretation of Islamic law. Usually, the execution is held in the city where the crime took place in a public place near the largest Mosque. The condemned is brought to the site with their hands tied and forced to kneel before the executioner, who draws a long sword amidst cries of “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is great!”).
Saudi Arabia has one of the highest numbers of executions in the world. It’s all-time record was established in 1995 with 191 executions. There were 39 executions in 2006, much lower than the 90 recorded in 2005. However, in the first six months of 2007, there have already been 119 beheadings.