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  75 death sentences in India last year: Amnesty



The number of executions could rise as Amnesty said it could not access data from China, which is a state secret. dh illustration

The report “Death sentences and Executions in 2015” released by Amnesty International on Tuesday also said there were at least 1,634 executions in 25 countries in 2015, which included one in India where Mumbai serial blast convict Yakub Memon was hanged.

The number of executions could rise as Amnesty said it could not access data from China, which is a “state secret”.

The executions for 2015 were the highest in last 25 years, it said adding it was more than 50% compared to 2014 figure of 1,061 in 22 countries. Iran follows China with 977 executions, Pakistan 326 and Saudi Arabia 158.

While India had around 75 death sentences last year, Egypt was on the top of the list after China with 538, Bangladesh 197, Nigeria 171 and Pakistan 121.

In India, almost all death sentences were for murder while at least four people were sentenced to gallows for aggravated circumstances of rape following amendments to the Criminal Code in 2013. At least 320 people remained under sentence of death at the end of 2015.

The Amnesty report also claimed that special courts whose proceedings “did not meet international fair trial standards” imposed death sentences in Bangladesh and India.

On Memon’s execution, the report said: “he had been convicted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act 1987, a law that contains provisions incompatible with international fair trial standards”.

The number of death sentences could rise as the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has not provided this year’s official figures. In 2014, Amnesty had reported at least 64 death sentences while later NCRB reported that there were 95 such sentences in 2014.

The report also noted that courts and authorities had commuted a number of death sentences during the year. Three prisoners whose mercy petitions the president had rejected in 2014 had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment by courts.

The Amnesty also found fault with the law commission for falling short of recommending abolition of death penalty for all crimes.

The commission had suggested retention of death penalty for terrorism-related offences.

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