Bonino says countries returning to death penalty a concern

China leads world in executions, but number down on the year

Bonino says countries returning to death penalty a concern

Rome, July 26 - An increase in the number of countries returning to the death penalty is a concern, said Foreign Minister Emma Bonino Friday. "Countries that were in a de facto moratorium (on the death penalty) are resuming executions," Bonino said during a presentation of research by the non-government organization Hands Off Cain. It found that while the numbers of executions are falling, several countries that had stopped applying death sentences were backtracking. Last year, seven countries resumed executions with at least one reported in Botswana, nine in Gambia, seven in Japan, one each in India and Pakistan. Bonino appealed for a renewed effort to abolish executions as the data showed that in 2012, almost 4,000 officially recorded executions were conducted. China led the way by carrying out about 3,000 of those, which is believed to be a reduction of about 25% from the previous year. Iran placed second with 580 executions in 2012, followed by Iraq at 129 and Saudi Arabia with 84. The NGO says it hopes that a positive trend is developing towards the abolition of the death penalty in the world, noting that the raw numbers of executions have been dropping. Compared with the almost 4,000 in 2012, there were 5,004 in 2011, at least 5,946 in 2010 and at least 5,741 in 2009, the agency said. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano praised the organization for its "tenacity" in tracking executions and repeated Italy's opposition to the death penalty. "Italy is a staunch supporter of human rights and civil liberties. Our opposition to the death penalty stems from a solid and ancient belief in the inviolability of the person," he said in a statement.

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