London [UK], April 22 (ANI): While the year 2020 witnessed an overall decrease in the number of global death penalties, some countries increased the number of executions they carried out amidst the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by a rights group.
"As the world focused on finding ways to protect lives from Covid-19, several governments showed a disturbing determination to resort to the death penalty and execute people no matter what," said Agnes Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International, in its annual global review of the death penalty.
According to the report, China classifies the total number of its executions and death sentences as a state secret and prevents independent scrutiny. Therefore, Amnesty International's figures for all known executions do not include executions in China.
"However, China is believed to execute thousands each year, making it once again the world's most prolific executioner ahead of Iran (246), Egypt (107), Iraq (45) and Saudi Arabia (27). Iran, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia accounted for 88 per cent of all known executions in 2020," the report said.
Egypt tripled the number of yearly executions and became the world's third most frequent executioner in 2020, the report said.
Globally, at least 483 people were known to have been executed in 2020 (excluding countries that classify death penalty data as state secrets, or for which limited information is available - China, North Korea, Syria, and Viet Nam).
"Shocking as this figure is, it is the lowest number of executions recorded by Amnesty International in at least a decade. It represents a decrease of 26 per cent compared to 2019, and 70 per cent from the high-peak of 1,634 executions in 2015," the report added. (ANI)