U.S. drops out of top five in global death penalty report

Amnesty International calls for more transparency from China, still the top global executioner in the rights group’s annual death penalty report, while the U.S. drops out of the top five.

(AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL) – China remains the world’s top executioner while the United States has dropped out of the top five, Amnesty International’s global death penalty report for 2016 revealed on Monday (April 10).

For the first time in a decade, the United States fell two places, recording 20 executions – its lowest since 1991. Executions worldwide totalled 1,032, down 37 percent from 2015.

Deputy Director of the Global Issues Programme at Amnesty International, James Lynch, said the majority of death penalty punishments are carried out by the top five countries — China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.

Amnesty International is pushing for more transparency in the use of the death penalty after new information emerged recently from countries that previously shrouded execution cases with secrecy.

This year, the human rights non-governmental organisation launched a report into China’s secretive use of the death penalty.

China maintains that its justice system has become more transparent. However, data found in Amnesty’s investigation contradicts and discredits these claims, Amnesty International’s China Researcher, William Nee, said.

China executes more than all other countries in the world put together, and many death penalty cases are missing from the national online database for the Supreme People’s Court, saying information related to the death penalty is classified as “state secrets”.