Amnesty International says there were more executions worldwide in 2015 than in any year since 1990. Paul Chapman reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3 Amnesty International's latest report on how many people are executed around the world makes grim reading. It says 1, 634 were officially recorded as executed last year. It's the highest number in a quarter of a century. The organisation's director for global issues and research says just three countries are responsible for nearly all. China, considered the world's most prolific executioner, isn't included because the true number of people put to death is a state secret. (SOUNDBITE)(English) AUDREY GAUGHRAN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR FOR GLOBAL ISSUES AND RESEARCH, SAYING: "Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Together these three countries accounted for almost 90 per cent of all the executions that we recorded in 2015, again excluding China." In Pakistan a moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre. Yet Amnesty says many of those who lost their lives weren't convicted of terrorism offences. In Iran and Saudi Arabia the group says executions are being used for political ends. (SOUNDBITE)(English) JAMES LYNCH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, SAYING: "The Saudi Arabian authorities suggest that these executions are carried out to fight terror and safeguard security but it's clear that they are also using the death penalty in the name of counter-terror to settle scores and crush dissidents." The United States is fifth in the league of top executioners world-wide. Amnesty International says it's making progress. The 28 executions last year was the lowest since 1991. Another four countries abolished the death penalty altogether in 2015. For the first time ever a majority of the world's nations - 102 in total - now don't have it at all.