US No Longer Among World's Top 5 Executioners
Amnesty International releases new rankings, hails death penalty's decline
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2017 7:41 PM CDT
This Oct. 7, 2002 file photo shows Alabama's lethal injection chamber at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala.   (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

(Newser) – The US is no longer one of the top five executioners in the world, AFP reports. In 2016, both death sentences and executions dropped in the US; only 20 people were put to death, which dropped the US to the No. 7 spot globally, per US News & World Report. And just 32 people were sentenced to death, the lowest number since 1973. Amnesty International, which reported the news, is hailing the trend, with the secretary general of the human rights organization calling it "a sign of hope for activists who have long campaigned for an end to capital punishment."

And it's not just the US—globally, there has been a 37% decline in the death penalty since 2015, the year that saw the highest recorded number of executions worldwide (1,634) since 1989. But China, which keeps its numbers secret, was not included in Amnesty's tally. "China wants to be a leader on the world stage, but when it comes to the death penalty it is leading in the worst possible way—executing more people annually than any other country in the world," the organization states, calling on the country to start publicizing its numbers. Amnesty says China is the biggest executioner in the world, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan. But two of those, Iran and Pakistan, saw significant drops in the number of executions (42% and 73% respectively) in 2016.

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