The group, in its annual report, said that there was a surge in the number of executions carried out worldwide last year, mainly centred in the Middle East. The report said Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia were most responsible for the increase. According to the report, at least 676 people were executed in 20 countries in 2011, according to Amnesty, compared with 527 in 23 countries in 2010.
Amnesty no longer publishes figures for China, where the data is considered a state secret. The rights group believes the figure to be in the thousands, The BBC reports. The group noted that most executions were carried out in Iran, which sent 360 people to their deaths, many of them for offences under new anti-drug laws brought in last year.
In Saudi Arabia, there were at least 82 executions compared to at least 27 the previous year, while Iraq executed at least 68 people, compared to at least one in 2010, according to the report. The group, however, also noted that fewer countries now practice the death penalty. It said the number of countries using capital punishment has fallen by a third, compared to a decade ago.