Turn on the television or open any newspaper these days and you can sometimes think the world is getting worse, not better.
At Amnesty International we regularly hear appalling stories of abuse and persecution, but in one area things are definitely improving: the abolition of the death penalty.
Amnesty has just published its global death penalty statistics and the good news is that the number of countries still executing prisoners is down (to just 18), significantly less than in previous years.
For the first time ever, last year there were no executions in Europe, and only the USA in the whole of north or south America put prisoners to death last year.
However, China itself executed thousands of people, including the British man Akmal Shaikh (despite fears he was mentally ill).
It’s no coincidence that countries with atrocious human rights records – China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq – also hanged, lethally injected or beheaded most prisoners.
Our message is that crime should always be dealt with firmly, but without the out-dated cruelty of the death penalty.
The good news is that this message is getting heard.
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