India registered an increase of 81 per cent in death sentences imposed in 2016 compared to 2015, a study released by Amnesty International has said. As per the global report on death sentences and executions, India awarded as many as 136 death sentences in 2016 as compared to 75 death sentences in 2015 and the crimes for which capital punishment was awarded mainly included murders.
The figure almost doubled in 2016 on account of the new anti-hijacking law, which allowed for capital punishment even in cases of hijacking (though only for those that result in the deaths of hostages, security personnel or any person not involved in the offence), it said.
A total of 1,032 persons were executed in 23 countries in 2016 in comparison to 1,634 executions in 25 countries in 2015, adding that two of the 25 countries that had executed death penalty in 2015 abolished it in 2016.
Of the total executions in 2016, most took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan, in that order.
The report states that though China executed more people in 2016 than all other nations combined, the true extent of the use of death penalty is unknown as this data is considered a state secret.
According to the report, India did not register a single execution in 2016 but it had more than 400 prisoners who were to be executed at the end of the year.
In comparison, Pakistan recorded a significant dip of 73 per cent in the number of executions. More than 320 people were executed in Pakistan in 2015 while last year, only around 87 people were executed in the country.
The Amnesty International report said that India is among the few countries that imposed death penalty for drug related offences.
“The death penalty was imposed or implemented for drug-related offences in a number of countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam,” it said.
Amnesty International, which comes out with a report on death sentences and executions every year, also said that in 2016, there was a considerable drop in number of executions worldwide.
Among India’s neighbours, Pakistan had the highest number of death sentences at 360, followed by Bangladesh at 245. Sri Lanka had 79 death sentences last year.
For the first time since 2006, the USA was not one of the five biggest executioners, falling to seventh behind Egypt.
The 20 executions in the USA was the lowest in the country since 1991.