Iran once again ranks second only to China when it comes to the number of state executions, according to the latest annual report from Amnesty International.
Amnesty International reports that the number of countries executing prisoners rose to 23 in 2010, up from 19 countries in 2009, which was the lowest number in 50 years.
Despite this setback, Amnesty International says the number of countries that don’t have the death penalty has doubled over the past two decades, and the movement to outlaw the practice has gained momentum.
The report indicates that 139 countries have either outlawed or put a moratorium on the death penalty. The last to join this group is Mongolia.
Last year the United Nations approved a resolution to end capital punishment; however, 58 countries continue to use capital punishment in their penal laws.
Amnesty International reports a decrease in the number of officially reported executions in Iran for 2010 compared to 2009. However, there have been other reports of unofficial and secret executions carried out in Mashhad. Human rights groups claim these have been excluded from the government’s tally.
Amnesty International says that there are reliable reports "of 300 new executions in Iran’s Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad."
According to Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty: "The minority of states that continue to systematically use the death penalty were responsible for thousands of executions in 2010, defying the global anti-death penalty trend."