Amnesty International recorded at least 993 executions in 23 countries in 2017, down by 4 per cent from 2016 (1,032 executions) and 39 per cent from 2015 when the London-based organisation reported 1,634 executions, the highest number since 1989.
Executions noticeably fell in Belarus (by 50 per cent) and Egypt (20 per cent). However, it increased in Palestine from three in 2016 to six in 2017; in Singapore from four to eight; and in Somalia from 14 to 24.
"The progress in sub-Saharan Africa reinforced its position as a beacon of hope for abolition... It is high time that the rest of the world follows their lead and consigns this abhorrent punishment to the history books," said Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty.
The organisation recorded at least 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries in 2017, a significant decrease from the record-high of 3,117 recorded in 2016. At least 21,919 people were known to be on death row at the end of 2017.
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