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Amnesty Lauds Progress in Death Penalty Abolition

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Death Penalty - Sputnik International
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A leading human rights group notes that even countries with strict application of the death penalty have made promising moves towards curbing the practice.

Amnesty International has published its research on the prevalence of use of the death penalty around the world throughout 2017 and noted encouraging signs that more countries are heading in the direction of abolishing the practice while still voicing concern over the number of state-sanctioned killings occurring every year.

The report lauded the sub-Saharan state of Guinea for becoming the twentieth country to formally abolish the death penalty has a method of punishment, marking a particularly rapid period of progress on the issue for the continent. Other states such as Kenya and Gambia have imposed moratoriums on the death penalty, particularly for crimes such as murder, while officially retaining the practice for the time-being. Overall rates of execution in the region reportedly declined in 2017.

"Now that 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, it is high time that the rest of the world follows their lead and consigns this abhorrent punishment to the history books. Cracks are appearing, even in the minority of countries that still execute people," said Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty in a statement coinciding with the report's release.

Notice was also taken of significant steps taken in retentionist states to limit the death penalty's application. Iran and Malaysia have historically had particularly high rates of execution due to their mandatory death penalty for trafficking narcotics. Both however, have sought to relax the law so that persons caught trafficking drugs below a certain volume will be spared from execution. The shift in Iran led to a decline in executions by 11 percent in the last year.

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