NEW YORK: Amnesty International reports that there was a dramatic 54 per cent increase in executions globally in 2015, with Pakistan carrying out 326 executions last year – the highest ever recorded by Amnesty International for the country.

Combined with Saudi Arabia and Iran, the three countries are responsible for nearly 90 percent of all global executions.

The human rights organisation said that the figure of at least 1,634 people executed last year – up from 1,061 in 2014 – does not include executions in China where data on the death penalty is considered a state secret.

According to the report, the number of executions recorded in Saudi Arabia increased by 76pc to 158, while those in Iran rose 31pc to 977.

Amnesty said it received information that both Iran and Pakistan executed people in 2015 who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed, and it said juveniles face the death sentence in several other countries.

Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director of South Asia Regional Office told media that “Over the past year, Pakistan has vaulted to the number three spot for recorded state executions in the world – a shameful position no one should aspire to. Only to be beaten by Iran and Saudi Arabia.”

Patel said Pakistan executed 326 people last year. Most of those executed were not convicted of terror-related offences, and there is evidence that at least two and possibly more of them were juveniles when they committed their alleged crimes.

“The death penalty is always a rights violation, but its use in Pakistan is all the more troubling given the serious fair trial concerns – including insufficient access to lawyers and endemic police torture to extract confessions,” said Patel.

In the United States, 28 people were executed in 2015, nearly half in Texas, the most active death penalty state, which put 13 people to death, the report said. Missouri executed six people, Georgia five, Florida two and Oklahoma and Virginia one each.

Amnesty was unable to confirm whether judicial executions took place in Syria. Minimum of two executions attributed to China, Malaysia, North Korea and Vietnam, giving final figure of 1,634.