2018 saw a 31 percent decrease in executions, according to Amnesty International's annual review of countries using the death penalty. Excluding China, 690 people are known to have been executed around the world, a decline on 2017's 993. China is the world's top executioner by far and it's believed that thousands of people are put to death every year despite accurate figures remaining a state secret.
Iran comes second after China with 253 people thought to have been executed last year. That is still a significant reduction on 2017 when more than 500 people had their death sentences carried out. The decline in Iran has been attributed to a change in the countries anti-narcotic laws. Other countries known for high numbers of executions also saw noticeable declines including Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia.
Despite the reduction in executions by the worst perpetrators, a small number of states are still bucking the trend. They include developed nations like Japan and Singapore who both reported their highest execution totals for years. Thailand has also resumed executions after nearly a decade while the United States also saw a minor increase in 2018.