Executions Down Globally In 2017, But Remain High In Iran, Pakistan

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Amnesty reports thousands of people are executed in China, where figures are a state secret.

"We've seen the change every year... this is evident that the world is changing, but we just want it [to change] a bit faster in some countries", Kulak said.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Amnesty International recorded about an 81 percent drop in the number of executing countries from 5 in 2016 to 2 (Somalia and South Sudan) in 2017 resulting to a drastic decrease in number of death sentence imposed and that was from 1086 in 2016 to 878 in 2017.

A leading human rights group notes that even countries with strict application of the death penalty have made promising moves towards curbing the practice.

Ms Kulak said a further 36 countries have abolished the death penalty in "law or practice" meaning while they have not officially scrapped the penalty, they are not performing any executions.

China is also one of 15 countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, which imposed death sentences for non-violent crimes such as drug offences in defiance of worldwide law, according to the report.

"With governments in the region continuing to take steps to reduce and repeal the death penalty well into 2018, the isolation of the world's remaining executing countries could not be starker", Shetty said.

The men were executed by firing squad, and Amnesty said their lawyers did not have access to all of the evidence against them.

China aside, executions worldwide dropped again in 2017, with at least 993 recorded in 23 countries - down 4% from 2016 and 39% from 2015.

Nigeria last carried out an execution in 2016.

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Executions increased in the United States past year, with 23 Americans put to death - three more than in 2016.

Amnesty International added, "For the first time in many years Amnesty International recorded more executions for murder than for drug-related offences".

According to Amnesty International, "Iran executed at least 507 people, accounting for 60% of all confirmed executions in the region". These changes send a message to states now considering harsher punishments to public health crises that other countries are moving away from imposing the death penalty for drug-related offenses. Singaporean representatives have given White House officials briefings on these policies.

"Australia needs to be consistent and persistent in the death penalty, both regionally [across the Asia Pacific] and globally", Kulak said.

Trump is also reported to have praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for his tough stance on the drugs trade, telling Duterte previous year that he was doing an "unbelievable job on the drug problem", according to The New York Times.

"The death penalty is barbaric".

"The fact that countries continue to resort to the death penalty for drug-related offences remains troubling".

It was reported that a Malaysian and four Indian nationals were sentenced to death on Jan 17 this year.

The report also expressed the group's concern that Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates all resumed executions in 2017. "We're spending all of this effort on this bill when two people have been (executed) since 2000 and 25 are being killed today in abortion clinics".

The report found 93 people were executed throughout the Asia-Pacific region past year, a 28 per cent decline from 2016. Of the 35 Member states of the Organization of American States, only the USA carried out executions.

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