Amnesty International found there were 1,032 executions in 23 countries in 2016 compared to 1,634 in 25 nations in 2015.
The report states that though China continued to be the world's top executioner, the true extent of the use of death penalty is unknown as this data is considered a state secret.
Vietnam classifies its figures on the death penalty as state secrets, but for the first time a report from Vietnam's Public Security Ministry, made public in February 2017, led Amnesty International to believe there were more executions than initially believed. Last year, the United States executed 20 people, the lowest number since 2006 and second-lowest since 1991, according to a new study by worldwide rights group Amnesty global.
Worldwide, at least 1,032 people were put to death a year ago, not counting those killed in China.
AMNESTY International has pleaded with Zimbabwe to abolish the death penalty with some 97 convicts now awaiting the hangman's noose in the country.
Beijing has tried to make the use of the death penalty rarer, reducing the number of crimes in which it is applicable from 55 to 46 in 2015. In November previous year, India had opposed a United Nations draft resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, saying it went against the sovereign right of every nation to determine its own legal practices.
The ultimate sanction is typically applied for murder, rape, robbery and drug offences, and in 2011, the courts were told to stop giving the death sentence for crimes such as smuggling cultural relics and rare animals and other non-violent crimes, although drug trafficking remains a capital offence.
The organization also said that death sentences in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iran were often imposed after "grossly unfair" trials, many of which relied on "confessions" obtained through torture.
Several others took steps to restrict their use of this punishment, confirming that the global trend remained towards the abolition of the death penalty.
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Of the 1,032 executions carried out in 2016, 87% took place in just four countries - Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.
She says there is no evidence to support claims by authorities that the death penalty has any impact on the willingness of terrorists to carry out attacks.
In sub-Saharan Africa fewer executions were recorded but the number of death sentences more than doubled, largely due to a steep rise in Nigeria.
But two of those, Iran and Pakistan, saw significant drops in the number of executions (42% and 73% respectively) in 2016.
Amnesty International has called on China to be transparent about the number of people it puts to death, saying less than a tenth of capital punishment cases were registered in the national court database.
AIM executive director K. Shamini (pic) noted that the number of executions carried out last year was a considerable increase from previous years.
For the first time in a decade the United States was not one of the five biggest executioners, giving hope to human rights activists. Out of the 856 executions that were recorded in 2016, Iran alone carried out 66% of them.
New data from Vietnam showed that it was one of the world's biggest executioners.