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India carried out no executions in 2016, Amnesty reveals in its annual death sentence report

London: India did not execute a single person last year despite the country imposing a total of 136 death sentences, which was significantly higher than the previous years, according to a report released on Tuesday by Amnesty International. "India recorded a total of 136 death sentences imposed in 2016, significantly higher than the previous years, whereas a significant decrease in the implementation of death sentences was recorded in Pakistan, by 73 per cent,” Amnesty said its annual report on 'Death Sentences and Executions'.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

India carried out no executions last year, but was among the few countries to hand out capital punishment for drug- related crimes and also amended its laws to introduce the death penalty for hijacking when it results into death, the Amnesty report said. "More than 400 people were believed to be under sentence of death at the end of the year. In May, the National Law University, Delhi, published an extensive study showing that most prisoners on death row were from economically vulnerable and socially disadvantaged groups,” the report noted.

The human rights group recorded 1,032 executions in 2016, a 37 percent drop worldwide, with China believed to have executed more than all countries combined but the figures remain a classified state secret. Despite the significant decrease world-wide, the overall number of executions in 2016 remained higher than the average recorded for the previous decade, the Amnesty report said.

Of the total 1,032 executions, 87 percent took place in just four countries - Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan. Pakistan's execution rate dropped from 326 recorded deaths in 2015 to at least 87 the following year. The high number reported in 2015 followed the lifting of a seven-year moratorium on executions in December 2014 in response to a deadly Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar.  The country then created military courts to try civilians suspected of terrorism-related offences. In 2016, at least four of those executed in the country were convicted by the military courts.

“The death penalty was used in contravention of international law and standards, including on people with mental disabilities, for crimes that did not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’ to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted, such as ‘blasphemy’; and in violation of the defendants’ right to a fair trial,” the report noted. However, the biggest rebuke is directed at China for its execution record and failure to disclose the true nature of capital punishments in the country.

A new in-depth investigation by Amnesty International claims that the Chinese authorities enforce an elaborate secrecy system to obscure the shocking scale of executions in the country, despite repeated claims it is making progress towards judicial transparency. For the first time since 2006, the US is not among the world's five biggest executioners and the number of executions (20) in 2016 reached the lowest level recorded in any year since 1991.

Amnesty collects its statistics using official figures, media reports and information passed on from individuals sentenced to death and their families and representatives.

Updated Date: Apr 12, 2017 14:24 PM

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