Dramatic rise in the number of death sentences, but fewer executions

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Renzo Pomi. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

There was a dramatic rise in the number of death sentences recorded in 2014 compared to the year before, according to Amnesty International.

Representatives from the NGO were at UN Headquarters this week to present a new report on the current status of the death penalty around the world.

It shows that an alarming number of countries used the death penalty to tackle real or perceived threats to state security linked to terrorism or internal instability.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

A sharp spike in death sentences has been reported by Amnesty International in their 2014 report presented to the UN.

The report says this is largely due to recent developments in Egypt and Nigeria where military courts handed down mass death sentences to hundreds of people simultaneously.

Another trend that was described as "particularly worrying" last year was the death penalty being used to address real or perceived threat of crimes, terrorism and instability.

Renzo Pomi is Amnesty International's representative at the UN.

"When governments say they are using the death penalty as a way to deal with serious threat, we consider they are wrong. There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty works as a particular deterrent to crime or that it is more effective than other forms for punishment. This has been confirmed by many studies done by the UN and across different countries and regions."

Mr Pomi pointed out there is also more positive news in the 2014 report, such as fewer executions being recorded than in 2013.

In addition, one hundred and seventeen countries recently voted in favour of a UN General Assembly resolution to stop state executions.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’19″

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