China carried out the highest number of executions in 2014, more than the rest of the world put together, according to the latest Amnesty International report on the death penalty.
China's figures, however, are not included in the report because AI suspects that Chinese authorities misrepresent the number of executions. "Available information indicates that thousands of people are executed and sentenced to death in China each year,” the report said. "Death sentences continued to be imposed after unfair trials and for non-lethal acts,” the report stated.
Death sentences were reportedly carried out for drug-related cases (8%), economic crimes (15%) including embezzlement, counterfeiting and taking bribes. In some instances, AI said, family members only found out about the executions of their relatives on the same day the death sentences were implemented.
At least 607 people (excluding China) were executed in 22 countries in 2014, a decrease of 22 percent from 2013. Most executions in 2014 took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the USA. And 2,466 people are known to have been sentenced to death in 2014, an increase of 28% from 2013.
The number of countries carrying out executions has halved from two decades ago, AI said, and now 140 countries worldwide, more than two-thirds, don’t practice the death penalty.
Seven countries including India and Bangladesh did not carry out executions in 2014. But seven other countries - Belarus, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Jordan - resumed executions after a hiatus. "Pakistan lifted a six-year moratorium on the execution of civilians in December, putting seven people to death in the space of two weeks,” the report said.
The decrease in the death penalty in the Asia Pacific region was largely attributed to the decrease in the number of death sentences in Bangladesh, which in 2013 recorded the high figure of 220 new death sentences because of the mass sentencing of 152 people for mutiny. India sentenced 64 people to death in 2014.
AI noted India’s Supreme Court decision in January to put executions on hold and commuting the death sentences of 15 people on the grounds of a long delay in the disposal of their mercy petitions by the President. The death sentences of two others were commuted because they suffered from mental illness.
The court also overruled a previous a decision which said that those convicted of terrorism-related offences cannot appeal for commutation on grounds of inordinate delay.
On August 5, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said that there was no proposal from the government to abolish the death.