Capital punishment 'on the wane'
The use of capital punishment around the world declined last year, Amnesty International has said.
Some 527 executions were carried out in 23 countries in 2010, down from at least 714 in 2009, according to official figures collated by the human rights charity.
But the data does not take full account of China, where thousands are believed to be executed every year against a backdrop of secrecy, Amnesty warned.
After China, Iran was thought to have carried out the most executions (at least 252), followed by North Korea (at least 60), Yemen (at least 53), the USA (46), and Saudi Arabia (at least 27).
Methods of execution were beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and various kinds of shooting, including by firing squad and at close range to the heart or the head.
No stonings were recorded in 2010, but stoning sentences were reported in Nigeria, Pakistan and Iran, where at least 10 women and four men await this fate.
Meanwhile at least 2,024 new death sentences were imposed during 2010 in 67 countries, including 365 in Pakistan alone, meaning that some 8,000 people are currently on death row in the country, Amnesty's annual assessment of the global use of the death penalty showed.
The charity also expressed concern that a significant proportion of the executions or death sentences recorded in 2010 were for drug-related offences while Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and the UAE ignored international prohibitions and imposed death sentences on child offenders.
But the charity's Death Sentences and Executions in 2010 report said the underlying global trend on capital punishment was strongly toward abolition, with 31 countries having abolished it in law or in practice in the last 10 years alone.
Last year Gabon scrapped the death penalty, becoming the 139th country to either abolish it outright or to cease to use it in practice.