Decline in death sentences: Amnesty

India has echoed a global trend of decline in death sentences in 2017 with an international report showing that the country sent 109 people to the condemned cells last year.

The Amnesty International's 'Death Sentence and Executions 2017' report showed that at least 2,591 death sentences were recorded in 53 countries in 2017, which was a significant decrease from the record-high of 3,117 recorded in 2016. In 2015, it was 1,998.

Executions also came down by 4% to 993 executions in 23 countries from 1,032 executions and 1,634 (the highest number since 1989) in 2015.

India also went with the global trend though it could not bring the numbers down to the 2015 level when it recorded 75 death sentences. In 2016, 136 death sentences were reported.

There are 371 people with the noose around their neck in Indian jails at the end of 2017. Globally, at least 21,919 people are known to be under the death.

"Globally, executions and death sentences are sliding and India has contributed to this trend. However, there is bad news coming out of India too, with new laws being passed that expand the scope of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment... It is high time that the government of India consigns the death penalty to the history books, instead of falsely claiming that it improves public safety," Amnesty International India Executive Director Aakar Patel said.

The report noted that India was the third country that expanded the scope of death penalty by introduced Anti-Hijacking Act, that provides for death penalty for hijacking resulting in death.

Singapore and Thailand are the two other countries that expanded the scope.

The state governments in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh also enacted laws to impose death penalty for causing deaths by selling spurious liquor and raping girls below the age of 12 years, respectively.

Subsequently, states like Rajasthan, Haryana, and Arunachal Pradesh have also enacted laws to impose death penalty for rape.

The report said China tops the list though there is no official count, followed by Nigeria at 621 death sentences and Egypt 402.

India is ranked seventh in this list and its neighbours Bangladesh (273+), Sri Lanka (218) and Pakistan (200+) are ahead of it in sentencing people to death.

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