Executions rising the world over: Amnesty International

Executions rising the world over: Amnesty International

A “new secretive trend” in some countries, including India, where some prisoners on death row are being put to death without their families and lawyers knowing has seen the global rate of executions go up by 14 per cent, according to a new report.

According to Amnesty International, executions across the globe have risen to 778 in 2013, up from 682 the year before.

The international human rights watchdog also said at least 23,392 people were on death row at the end of 2013 while 1,925 death sentences were recorded in 57 countries in 2013, an increase from the 2012 figure of 1,722 death sentences in 58 countries. Indian courts sentenced 72 people to death last year.

Amnesty said the year 2013 was marked by “some challenging setbacks” on the journey to abolition of the death penalty as four countries - Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Vietnam - resumed executions and there was a significant rise in the number of people executed, driven primarily by increases in Iraq and Iran.

The lone execution in India was that of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged in secret in Tihar jail in Delhi.

The report noted that there were “serious concerns about the fairness” of the execution, including the fact that Afzal did not receive legal representation of his choice or a lawyer with adequate experience at the trial stage.

“His family was not informed in time of his imminent execution and his body was not returned to the family for last rites and burial, in violation of international standards. Afzal Guru was also denied the opportunity to seek a judicial review of the decision to reject his mercy petition,” the report said.

Talking to a news channel, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde admitted that the controversial hanging could have been handled better. He claimed that he had given instructions but it didn’t work.

“In such cases I am of the view that the family must be informed properly as per jail rules,” Shinde told the channel.

The number of executions in Iran was at least 369 and Iraq 169. “While the number of executions in China is kept secret, Amnesty International believes thousands are put to death every year,” said the report. Saudi Arabia (79), the US (39) and Somalia (34) follow Iran and Iraq in executions.

"The virtual killing sprees we saw in countries like Iran and Iraq were shameful. But those states who cling to the death penalty are on the wrong side of history and are, in fact, growing more and more isolated,” said Salil Shetty,  secretary general of Amnesty International.

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