The number of executions worldwide dropped in 2006 from 2,148 the year previous to 1,591, according to new statistics issued by Amnesty International. Over 90 percent of the year's executions were conducted in six countries: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, the USA and China. At 177, Iran's execution rate nearly doubled in 2006. Iraq and Pakistan joined the ranks of the world's deadliest regimes with 65 hangings and at least 82 executions respectively, and Amnesty reported at least 1000 executions in China, where rights activists say the true total may be closer to 8000. The United States, with 53 executions in 2006, is the only Western Hemisphere country to have carried out any executions since 2003.
Amnesty said that some 20,000 prisoners remain on death row worldwide, and repeated its call for a worldwide moratorium on executions, noting that 99 countries - most recently, the Philippines - now support a ban on capital punishment for ordinary crimes.