HYDERABAD, Oct 10: Scores of activists of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and civil society organisations held a rally here on Thursday to mark the “World Day against Death Penalty”.

The participants in the rally led by HRCP coordinator Dr Ashothama and advocate Fazal Qadir Memon urged the government to abolish the death penalty.

The HRCP also launched a report compiled by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty on the occasion, which said that more than two thirds of the world’s countries had abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.

It says 97 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, eight countries have abolished it for all crimes except extraordinary crimes such as those committed in time of war, 35 countries are de facto abolitionists where the death penalty is still provided for legislation but no executions have been carried out for at least 10 years.

Therefore, it says, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty de jure or de facto while 58 countries and territories still uphold the death penalty and use this punishment and only 21 countries carried out executions in 2012.

The report says that since 2002, 21 countries have abolished capital punishment for all crimes, which include Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Bhutan, Burundi, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Gabon, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, Montenegro, the Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Togo, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

In Americas, the US is the only country that carried out executions in 2012. In sub-Saharan Africa, only five counties executed prisoners in Botswana, Gambia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. In Europe, only Belarus continues to use the death penalty and execute prisoners, it says.

During 2012, the report says, at least 682 prisoners (excluding China) were executed in 21 countries and at least 1,722 people were sentenced to death in 58 countries. The figures only reflect cases of which Amnesty International (AI) was aware and the actual number could be certainly higher.

In 2012, the nations with the highest number of executions were China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The AI has not given any estimates on number or executions in China as national statistics on the application of capital punishment remain a state secret. It is believed that thousands of executions took place in 2012, the report says.

In Asia, there were no executions in Mongolia for the fourth year in a row but the resumption of executions especially in India, Indonesia, Japan and Pakistan is a grave concern.

In the Middle East, according to the information gathered by AI, Iran executed at least 314 individuals in 2012. According to Iran Human Rights’ annual report, at least 580 people were executed in 2012 with at least 60 public executions.

In Iraq, at least 129 executions took place in 2012 and over 81 people are reported to have been sentenced to death in 2012. In Yemen, at least 28 people were executed in 2011.

Saudi Arabia executed at least 79 individuals compared to 82 in 2011 and 27 in 2010, it says.

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