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Executions worldwide up, countries with death penalty down: report

[JURIST] The number of executions worldwide increased slightly in 2006 while the number of countries that employ capital punishment decreased, according to a report [text; press release] released Thursday by the Rome-based anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain [advocacy website]. According to statistics compiled from news reports and NGOs, there were 5628 executions in 27 countries in 2006, up from 5494 executions in 24 countries in 2005. At the same time, three countries abolished the death penalty [JURIST news archive] last year, reducing the number of countries that use capital punishment to 51. In total, 146 countries have either abolished or placed a moratorium on the death penalty.

At the presentation of the report, Hands Off Cain honored Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official website; BBC profile] as "Abolitionist of the Year" for his country's abolishment of the death penalty [JURIST report] earlier this year. Rwanda ended the practice in part to encourage other nations to extradite war-criminals responsible for Rwanda's 1994 genocide. At the same time, the group condemned Iran and Pakistan for their executions of minors last year, in violation of international law. According to Human Rights Watch, Iran has executed eight times more juveniles [JURIST report] than any other country. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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