UK & World News
'Sharp Spike' In People Put To Death Worldwide
There has been a "sharp global spike" in the number of people put to death, according to Amnesty International.
Almost 100 more people were executed in 2013 compared with the previous year - a rise of almost 15%.
There were at least 778 executions carried out in 22 countries, according to the London-based rights group.
Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty said: "Only a small number of countries carried out the vast majority of these senseless state-sponsored killings.
"We urge all governments who still kill in the name of justice to impose a moratorium on the death penalty immediately, with a view to abolishing it."
Iran (369 executions), Iraq (169), Saudi Arabia (79), the United States (39) and Somalia (34) are top of the list.
However, the figures do not include the thousands of people who are put to death in China, where such information is a state secret.
The report follows a decision this week by a court in Egypt to sentence 529 alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death, a decision Amnesty called "grotesque".
The global increase is partly down to more executions in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia - which account for 80% of the total.
"Credible sources" have reported an additional 335 executions in Iran, Amnesty said.
The rights group said it could not confirm the number of executions in Syria and Egypt.
Reasons for executions included adultery in Saudi Arabia, blasphemy in Pakistan, economic crimes in China, North Korea and Vietnam, and reportedly in North Korea for pornography, escaping to China and watching banned videos from South Korea.
Methods of execution included beheading in Saudi Arabia, electrocution in the US, and lethal injection in China, Vietnam and the US.
Other countries were listed as using hanging and shooting, although there were no reported executions by stoning.
According to Amnesty, more than 23,000 people were recorded as being on death row in 2013, and at least 1,925 people were sentenced to death in 57 countries.
But amid the high numbers, the rights group pointed out that only around one in 10 countries carry out executions and 140 are against the death penalty.