At least 883 people were executed across 20 countries in 2022, the highest highest number of executions recorded in five years, with Iran driving the spike, according to Amnesty International.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is among the world's top executioners, with at least 576 executions last year, an increase of 83 percent compared to 2021 when 314 executions were recorded, the London-based human rights organization said in its annual review of the death penalty.
"The Iranian authorities continued to use the death penalty as a tool of political repression and to disproportionately execute members of ethnic minorities as part of the long-term, entrenched discrimination and repression of these groups," the report said.
Of the 576 recorded executions, 279 (48 percent) were for murder; 255 (44 percent) were for drug-related offences; 21 were for rape; 18 were for "waging was against God;" and three were for unknown crimes.
Increases in recorded executions for murder (+75 percent) and drug-related offences (+93 percent) were largely responsible for the 83 percent spike in recorded executions.
Those executed included 12 women and five people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offence for which they had been convicted.
Two executions were carried out in public.
The use of the death penalty remained shrouded in secrecy in several countries, including China, the world’s most prolific executioner.
Ninety percent of the world’s known executions outside China were carried out by just three countries in the Middle East: Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Recorded executions tripled in Saudi Arabia to 196 in 2022 — the highest number recorded by Amnesty International in 30 years, while Egypt executed 24 individuals.
The number of executions in the United States rose from 11 in 2021 to 18 last year.
“As many countries continue to consign the death penalty to the dustbin of history, it’s time for others to follow suit. The brutal actions of countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia as well as China, North Korea and Viet Nam are now firmly in the minority," said Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
"These countries should urgently catch up with the times, protect human rights, and execute justice rather than people,” she added.