A report by Amnesty International said that death penalties in 2020 declined worldwide. However, some countries continued and even increased the number of executions despite the coronavirus pandemic.
A report released by Amnesty International on Wednesday showed that executions were on the decline in 2020.
While the last year saw an overall drop in death penalties across the globe, however, some countries continued, and even increased, the number of executions.
"Despite the continued pursuit of the death penalty by some governments, the overall picture in 2020 was positive," said Agnes Callamard, the human rights group's secretary general.
"The number of known executions continued to drop — bringing the world closer to consigning the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment to the history books."
Worldwide, at least 483 executions were carried out in 2020, according to the report — the lowest tally recorded by Amnesty in about 10 years. At the same time, however, the number of executions tripled in Egypt, and India, Oman, Qatar and Taiwan also resumed the form of punishment.
The Trump administration in the US resumed federal executions after a hiatus of 17 years, with 10 people put to death within a six-month period.
Executions in Saudi Arabia dropped by 85%, from 184 in 2019 to 27 in 2020, and more than halved in Iraq, from 100 in 2019 to 45 in 2020. No executions were recorded in Bahrain, Belarus, Japan, Pakistan, Singapore and Sudan, all of which carried out death sentences in 2019.
China, North Korea, Syria and Vietnam classify executions as confidential state information, and therefore the exact number of executions in these nations is not known.
China is believed to carry out thousands of executions every year, making it the worst offender, the Amnesty report said. Iran came in second (more than 246), followed by Egypt (more than 107), Iraq (more than 45) and Saudi Arabia (27). Iran, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia accounted for 88% of all known executions in 2020.
The report said that countries in the Asia Pacific region continued to violate international law and standards, which advise against the use of the death penalty for crimes other than intentional murder.
Some 108 countries have abolished the death penalty altogether, and 144 countries have abolished it in law or practice. Last year, Chad scrapped the death penalty while Kazakhstan and Barbados enacted reforms to abolish the practice.