Iraq became one of the world's top executioners in 2006 after it reintroduced capital punishment in mid 2004. While no executions were reported in 2004 and only three the following year, the figure soared to 65 in 2006.
Iran's executions also soared and almost doubled in 2006 compared to the previous year with at least 177 people put to death, including four child offenders. Pakistan also joined the list of top executioners with at least 82 reported executions. Sudan executed at least 65, though Amnesty said it believes the number is higher. Fifty three people were executed in the US, the only country in the Americas to have carried out executions since 2003. The United States, with 53 executions in 2006, is the only country in the Americas to have carried out the death penalty since 2003, the report noted. Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said it was a "continuing source of national shame that the United States remains on the list of the world's top executing countries". However, the great majority of executions worldwide were carried out in China. Though no official statistics are available, Amnesty says at least 1,010 people were executed in 2006 although the real figures are believed to be around 7,000 to 8,000.
Presenting the report from Rome, Khan called in Italy to work towards increasing the group of countries backing a moratorium on the death penalty. "The death penalty must be abolished and a universal moratorium will be an important step forward", she said. Italian diplomats at the UN are trying to gain the backing of more countries for a resolution demanding a worldwide moratorium on executions.
Italy is seeking more adhesions to be sure the resolution gains a majority in a potential General Assembly vote. Though the resolution would in fact not be binding for UN member states, a strongly-backed call for a halt to executions is widely seen as sensibly boosting the abolitionist cause.
At least 88 countries so far have reportedly signed a declaration supporting Italy's death penalty moratorium proposal, not enough to gain a majority vote in the 192-member General Assembly.