WASHINGTON, March 27 (UPI) -- The Middle East and Asia, with China carrying out "thousands" of executions, are behind most of the world's death sentences, Amnesty International said Sunday.
Amnesty International in its "Death Sentences and Executions in 2010" report released cited China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Yemen as being among "the most frequent executioners, some in direct contradiction of international human rights law."
The report said at least 527 people are known to have been executed by countries last year, which was a drop from 714 in 2009. However, Amnesty International said China executed thousands in 2010 although the exact number is hidden by state secrecy.
The human rights group alleged China used the death penalty in 2010 "against thousands of people for a wide range of crimes that include non-violent offenses and after proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards."
"While executions may be on the decline, a number of countries continue to pass death sentences for drug-related offenses, economic crimes, sexual relations between consenting adults and blasphemy, violating international human rights law forbidding the use of the death penalty except for the most serious crimes," Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty said.
Amnesty International's report said the United States, the only country in the Americas to carry out executions, put 110 prisoners to death last year. The group said Iran acknowledged 252 executions but added it had "credible reports" of at least 300 others. Most of those executions, Amnesty International said, were for drug-related offenses.