Fewer countries than ever are executing people, but those countries are doing so with gusto, according to a new report from Amnesty International. Just 20 nations still use the death penalty. The US executed 43 people last year, making it 5th globally, and the only Western democracy on the list, the AP reports. “If you look at the company we're in globally, it's not the company we want to be in: China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq,” said the executive director of Amnesty International USA.
In all, 676 people were executed around the world last year, and another 18,750 are awaiting execution. Those figures don't include China, which Amnesty suspects executed thousands of people, more than the rest of the world combined, CNN reports. Executions surged 50% in the Middle East compared to last year, with Saudi Arabia executing 82, Iraq at least 62, Yemen at least 41, and Iran at least 360. People were executed for crimes including adultery, sodomy, blasphemy, and drug offenses, and in many cases without a fair trial, with confessions often extracted via torture. (Read more death penalty stories.)