Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Dateline: Earth

Naomi Koppel of AP reports that while cruel, the death penalty was not unusual in 2001. China has a huge lead in the overall medal standings....US in a three-way tie in the minors category....

Report: '01 World Executions Doubled
Tue Apr 9, 1:08 PM ET
By NAOMI KOPPEL, Associated Press Writer

GENEVA - The number of known executions around the world doubled last year, with China accounting for 80 percent of that total during its crackdown on crime, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

In its annual report on the death penalty, the human rights group said at least 3,048 people were executed in 31 countries last year.

That includes 2,468 executions in China alone. Between April and July 2001, China executed at least 1,781 people during its national "strike hard" campaign against crime.

Four countries — China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States — were responsible for 90 percent of the death sentences carried out in 2001, Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International said it was particularly concerned about the increasing use of the death penalty for nonviolent offenses, such as homosexuality in Saudi Arabia, drug trafficking in southeast Asia, adultery in Nigeria and Sudan, and corruption or theft in China.

However, Amnesty International said it was encouraged by a reduction in the number of people executed for offenses committed when they were minors.

Three such executions were carried out last year — in the United States, Iran and Pakistan, Arenas said. There have been 15 such executions in the United States since 1990, the most in the world.

"I think there has been a consensus that the execution of those who committed crimes under the age of majority is something that is unacceptable," Arenas said.