Amnesty International: Global death penalty trend falls

image captionThe US carried out 46 executions in 2010, the report says

The use of the death penalty globally is continuing to fall, an annual report by Amnesty International has said.

Although 23 countries carried out executions in 2010, four more than in 2009, the number of people executed dropped from at least 714 to at least 527, the rights group said.

But that figure does not include China, whose executions are thought to be more than all other countries put together.

Gabon last year became the 139th country to cease the practice.

Mongolia declared a moratorium on the death penalty.

But following an execution-free year in Europe in 2009, the death penalty returned to the continent with two executions in Belarus.

The report expresses alarm that a significant number of executions or death sentences handed down in 2010 were for drug offences - including more than half of the death sentences in Malaysia.

Methods of execution employed worldwide were beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and various kinds of shooting.

No stonings were recorded in 2010, but stoning sentences were recorded in Nigeria, Pakistan and Iran.

Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty said: "In spite of some setbacks, developments in 2010 brought us closer to global abolition."

But he added: "The minority of states that continue to systematically use the death penalty were responsible for thousands of executions in 2010, defying the global anti-death penalty trend."

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