[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Wednesday released their annual report [text; PDF] on death sentences and executions throughout the globe. The rights organization recorded that executions took place in 22 countries in 2013, an increase by one from 2012. Neither the 2012 or 2013 report included Egypt or Syria as AI could not confirm if judicial executions took place. According to AI 778 reported executions took place in 2013, a 15 percent increase from 2012. The report acknowledges however that "excluding China, almost 80% of all known executions worldwide were recorded in only three countries: Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia." The number of executions does not include executions carried out in China, where AI estimates thousands were executed by the state; however such statistics are treated as a state secret, preventing the organization from obtaining reliable information. The report indicates that despite the increase in executions the global trend towards the elimination of the death penalty has continued. By the end of 2013 the number of countries that have abolished the death penalty for all crimes reached 98 a thirteen country increase over the last ten years. AI reports that the number of executions in the United States decreased in 2013 and Maryland became the eighteenth state to abolish the death penalty [JURIST report].
Earlier this month China's legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC) [JURIST news archive], announced [JURIST report] measures that would subject less crimes to capital punishment if passed. In February a group of UN independent experts called on [JURIST report] the government of Iran to halt the startling increase in the number of hangings since the start of 2014. According to the UN Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights (OFCHR) [official website], at least 40 persons were hanged in the beginning of January 2014, and 625 executions were reportedly carried out in 2013. Also in February Washington state Governor Jay Inslee [official website] announced a moratorium on executions [JURIST report] in the state.