UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A total of 134 countries have given up capital punishment, 10 more than had done so at the start of 2003, a campaigner against capital punishment has reported.
Since the start of 2003, Ghana, Benin, Malawi and Morocco had in effect abolished the practice by not executing anyone for at least 10 years while Kazakhstan and Tajikistan had put in place a legal moratorium on the practice, it said.
Another four countries -- Bhutan, Samoa, Bosnia and Armenia -- either abolished the death penalty or tightened an existing partial ban since the start of last year, the group reported at a presentation at U.N. headquarters.
Of the total, 81 have abolished the death penalty completely, 14 have abolished it for ordinary crimes, one -- Russia -- has pledged to abolish it, and six are observing moratoriums, the Rome-based organization Hands Off Cain said.
Another 32 countries allow capital punishment but have in effect abolished it by not carrying out an execution for at least the past 10 years, the group said.
In all, 62 countries retain the death penalty and in 2003 put to death at least 5,523 individuals, the group said.
One country alone, China, executed at least 5,000 people last year while Iran put to death at least 154 and Iraq had executed at least 113 people by April 9, 2003, when the U.S.-led occupation suspended the death penalty, it said.