[JURIST] According to figures compiled by Amnesty International [advocacy website], 2,148 people were executed around the world in 2005, with the most executions being performed in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US. In its report [text] released Thursday, Amnesty noted that China executed 94 percent of the total number, while 94 people were executed in Iran, 86 in Saudi Arabia, and 60 in the US. The human rights group said the numbers were approximate and potentially much higher because of the secrecy that many countries give to the death penalty [JURIST news archive], noting especially that the numbers in China are most likely much higher [JURIST report]. A Chinese legal expert has estimated the real figure to be closer to 8,000 rather than the 1,770 executions actually reported by the country.
Amnesty also reports that almost 5,200 people were sentenced to death in 2005 and that over 20,000 people are currently on death row around the world. AI Secretary-General Irene Khan on Thursday called for an international ban of the death penalty [press release], saying "The death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights, because it contravenes the essence of human values, It is often applied in a discriminatory manner, follows unfair trials or is applied for political reasons." Liberia and Mexico have recently abolished capital punishment and 86 countries around the world have now outlawed the death penalty. Reuters has more.