April 10 (UPI) -- There were fewer executions around the world last year than in any other year for more than a decade, a report by Amnesty International said Wednesday.
The analysis said capital punishments fell by 31 percent in 2018 to 690. Amnesty International, which tracks executions yearly, said there are 19,000 people on death row worldwide.
Most executions were carried out in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq -- which accounted for 454 of the deaths, the Amnesty report said. Vietnam was the Asian leader, with at least 85.
Amnesty International believes China executes more people than any nation, but the exact number is unknown because Beijing doesn't disclose the information. The report says Chinese executions are in the thousands each year.
"The dramatic global fall in executions proves that even the most unlikely countries are starting to change their ways and realize the death penalty is not the answer," Amnesty International Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo said in a statement. "Despite regressive steps from some, the number of executions carried out by several of the worst perpetrators has fallen significantly. This is a hopeful indication that it's only a matter of time before this cruel punishment is consigned to history, where it belongs."
While executions declined overall, they increased in a few nations -- including Japan, Singapore and the United States. Last year, the United States put 23 prisoners to death -- despite having 18 states that have outlawed or suspended the practice.
Wednesday's report noted that Thailand resumed executions last year and Sri Lanka says it will follow suit, possibly this year.