By AND Nigeria
A Nigerian, Amara Tochi Iwuchukwu, is among the 20,000 people currently on death row, according to Amnesty International. Iwuchukwu currently faces execution in Singapore for allegedly trafficking in heroin. In the annual global death penalty report for this year published on its website yesterday, the human rights organisation revealed that about 20,000 people are currently on death row awaiting executions
In the annual global death penalty report for this year published on its website yesterday, the human rights organisation revealed that about 20,000 people are currently on death row awaiting executions worldwide.
The report, entitled: 'The Death Penalty Worldwide: Developments in 2005", also showed that at least 2,148 people were executed last year - the vast majority in China (1,770), Iran (94), Saudi Arabia (86) and the United States (60).
These four countries alone, according to Amnesty International, accounted for 94 per cent of executions recorded during last year.
In the preceding year (2004), about 3,797 executions were carried out, indicating a substantial drop in recorded executions last year as well as a fall in the number of countries carrying out executions (22 down from 25), the report said.
The number of countries carrying out executions, it added, has halved in the past 20 years and has dropped for the fourth consecutive year.
The report, however, cautioned that these figures were minimum figures only because countries like China, among others, have refused to publish full official statistics on executions while Vietnam has also made death penalty information a "state secret".
But a Chinese legal expert has estimated that China actually executes about 8,000 people annually, while a Chinese state official said in 2004 that "nearly 10,000" people are executed in China each year.
A person in China, the report noted, could be sentenced to death for 68 different crimes, including non-violent ones like tax fraud, embezzlement and drug offences.
According to Amnesty International, United Kingdom Director, Kate Allen: "It is an affront to human rights that in 2006, 20,000 prisoners are currently on death row waiting to be taken out and killed by their governments.
"The death penalty is cruel and unnecessary, does not deter crime and often comes after torture, false "confessions" and deeply unfair trials.
By Francis Obinor for Guardian Newspaper