Amnesty International reports fewer executions were carried out in 2017 than in the previous year. The organisation recorded 993 deaths last year, not including China for which it has no data but where the number could run to thousands. The figure is still high, but slightly down on 2016.
"The report, Amnesty International’s global report, Death Sentences and Executions 2017, shows us that the world is getting closer to ridding itself of the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment," said Tawanda Mutasah, Senior Director for Law and Policy, Amnesty International.
The report found the majority of executions were carried out in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan accounted for 84 percent of the killings.
Fifty-six countries still carry out the death penalty, including the United States.
Amnesty said the report does not tell the full story since the figures are based on minimum numbers of cases that could be confirmed beyond doubt.
The report also found that the death penalty does little to deter crime.