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Shining a spotlight on global death penalty rates

(NC) In October 2016, Canada co-sponsored a motion at the United Nations calling for a global moratorium on use of the death penalty. But the most recent annual report on the death penalty by Amnesty International reveals that thousands of people were put to death last year. Here are four facts you need to know:

China continues to top the list of global executioners. The number of people executed in China runs into the thousands ever year, but the authorities enforce an elaborate secrecy system to obscure the scale of executions in the country.

Worst offenders. Amnesty documented 1,032 cases outside China where people were put to death in 2016. In addition to China, the other top five countries practicing the death penalty last year were Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.

The United States stands out. For the first time since 2006, the U.S. was not one of the five biggest executioners, placing seventh behind Egypt. But the United States is still the only country in North or South America that uses the death penalty.

The global trend is unclear. While the number of people executed around the world in 2016 was lower than the year before, more than 18,000 people were still on death row worldwide at the beginning of 2017.