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Amnesty International: Death penalty on decline, US in top 5

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Kiichiro Sato/AP

(Read caption) This November 2005 file photo shows the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Corrections Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.

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Around the world, the death penalty appears to be in decline. However, a new report by Amnesty International reveals that a handful of countries continue the practice.

China, Iran, North Korea, Yemen, and the United States lead the world in carrying out the most death sentences. And China is suspected of executing more people in 2010 than all other countries combined – although that number is uncertain because China does not disclose its death penalty information.

Although there has been a downward trend in executions, officials at Amnesty International have expressed concern over China’s reluctance to make its execution records public and a number of other countries who still issue death sentences for drug-related offenses.

“In spite of some setbacks, developments in 2010 brought us closer to global abolition,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general in an official press release. “For the third time and with more support than ever before, the UN General Assembly called for a global moratorium on executions. Any country that continues to execute is flying in the face of the fact that both human rights law and UN human rights bodies consistently hold that abolition should be the objective.”

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