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Amnesty International Reports Sharp Jump in Executions

A Muslim cleric chants slogans alongside women in a rally to protest the execution by Saudi Arabia last week of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent opposition Saudi Shiite cleric, in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Amnesty International Reports Sharp Jump in Executions
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More people were put to death last year than in any year since 1989, according to Amnesty International.

The rights group reported that at least 1,634 people worldwide were executed in 2015. That represents an increase of 54 percent from the number in 2014.

Amnesty called the number of those put to death, “profoundly disturbing.”

The group said Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were responsible for the increase in executions in 2015. Those countries were responsible for 89 percent of all reported executions.

Iran executed at least 977 people last year, the group said. More than 320 executions were recorded in Pakistan, while at least 158 people were put to death in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty said most executions in Saudi Arabia were beheadings. In Iran, the majority of those put to death had been tried and found guilty of drug charges.

The report failed to give the number of executions carried out in China. There, information about the death penalty is considered a state secret, so execution numbers are not reported.

Belarus and Vietnam also did not provide information for the report. Belarus is the only country in Europe to use the death penalty.

Amnesty said the United States carried out 28 executions last year, the lowest number since 1991. In 2015, the state of Pennsylvania ordered a ban on executions. The group said a total of 18 states have barred execution as a form of punishment.

Amnesty International Death Penalty Map
Amnesty International Death Penalty Map

Amnesty International said the top five executioners in the world were China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

A majority of the world’s countries – a total of 102 nations – have stopped using the death penalty.

I’m Jim Dresbach. reported this story. Jim Dresbach adapted the report for Learning English and George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

profoundlyadj. extremely; greatly

disturbingn. worrying; causing concern

beheadingn. the act of cutting off a person’s head

death penaltyn. death as a punishment given by a court of law for very serious crimes