It’s that time of year again. Amnesty International published the death penalty report (Abstract. Links to the entire and detailed report at the end of the linked page).

The figures also show an increase in executions in a number of countries. Iran executed at least 317 people, Saudi Arabia 143 and Pakistan 135 – in comparison to 177, 39 and 82 executions respectively in 2006.

Eighty-eight per cent of all known executions took place in five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA. Saudi Arabia had the highest number of executions per capita, followed by Iran and Libya. Amnesty International has been able to confirm at least 470 executions by China – the highest overall figure. However, the organization has said that the true figure for China is undoubtedly much higher.

China, which the report refers to as the world’s top executioner, classifies the death penalty as a state secret. As the world and Olympic guests are left guessing, only the Chinese authorities know exactly how many people have been killed with state authorization.

“The secretive use of the death penalty must stop: the veil of secrecy surrounding the death penalty must be lifted. Many governments claim that executions take place with public support. People therefore have a right to know what is being done in their name,” said Amnesty International.

Please note the numbers are the absolute verified numbers. China is by some believed to execute around 6.000 of their citizens yearly. From another, related part of their website:

The death penalty violates the right to life. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It has no place in a modern criminal justice system.

An execution, just like torture, involves a deliberate assault on a prisoner. Even so-called ‘humane’ methods such as lethal injection can entail excruciating suffering.

Capital punishment is irrevocable. All judicial systems make mistakes, and as long as the death penalty persists, innocent people will be executed.

It is also discriminatory and is often used disproportionately against the poor, the powerless and the marginalized, as well as against people whom repressive governments want to eliminate.

The death penalty does not deter crime more than other punishments. In Canada the homicide rate has fallen by 40 per cent since 1975; the death penalty was abolished for murder in 1976.

Added April 16th: Oh yep, Injection is legal, so all the stalled executions will commence again. Virginia announced they will start immediately.