China Leads World In Executions

China executed more people than any other country in the world last year by putting at least 470 people to death, but the number of executions in the country actually fell compared to the year before, Amnesty International said.

In its annual report on worldwide executions, the human rights group said Tuesday that Iran remains the country with the second highest number of executions, and that the number had nearly doubled from the year before. The 377 inmates included a man stoned to death for committing adultery.

The United States was fifth in the rankings with 42 executions, reflecting a drop in the number of people put to death during the year. That was the lowest number of executions in the United States in about 15 years, Amnesty officials said. However, lethal injection executions have been on hold nationally while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge in a case from Kentucky.

“Obviously, it’s an image issue,” Rosemary Foot, professor of international relations at St. Antony’s College at Oxford University, said. “It’s always going to be the phrase that’s on everyone’s lips, the highest number.” She said the report would hurt China’s reputation outside its borders but would have little impact inside the country.

Foot claimed it was impossible to obtain reliable figures about executions in China because of the secrecy surrounding the process. “The caveat is, there’s not openness about levels of execution. We don’t actually know what the real figure is.”

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