04/05/2005, 00.00
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In 2004, 90pc of the executions in the world held in China

Amnesty International annual report on death penalty, released today,  shows China is the first nation for number of executions. Iran, Vietnam and USA follow.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Almost 90 per cent of the executions recorded around the world last year were carried out on the mainland, according to Amnesty International's latest report on the death penalty, to be released today.

Of the 3,797 people known to have been executed in 25 countries last year, the human rights watchdog estimated that 3,400 were put to death on the mainland, accounting for 89.5 per cent of the total. Iran executed at least 159 and Vietnam 64. There were 59 executions in the United States.

In its report released last year, Amnesty estimated that 726 people were put to death on the mainland out of a total of 2,756 worldwide in 2003. Hugh Whitby, the watchdog's death penalty co-ordinator in Hong Kong, said the higher figure could be due to different approaches to research adopted in 2003 and 2004. However, he said the figure was still lower than the actual number of people executed. Amnesty arrived at its estimate of last year's executions by sampling internet reports on trials. Before that, estimates were based on newspaper reports. "[But] the figure for last year is understood to be a fraction of the true number [of people put to death on the mainland]," he said.

National People's Congress delegate Chen Zhonglin said last year that "nearly 10,000" people were executed every year, although he said that was an estimate by academics. Beijing regards the number of executions as a "state secret".

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