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Activists: China Executed 2,400 People in 2013

FILE - A drug dealer is sentenced to death by a judge during a public trial at a university gymnasium.

A U.S.-based rights group says the number of executions carried out in China likely decreased by 20 percent in 2013.

In a report Monday, the Dui Hua Foundation estimated China executed 2,400 people in 2013, and will likely execute the same number this year.

That is more than three times as many executions than what Amnesty International said occurred in the rest of the world combined in 2013.

Death penalty figures are treated as a state secret in China, forcing rights groups to rely on second-hand reports and statements by anonymous officials.

Dui Hua's report was based on information published in the influential and relatively progressive Southern Weekly newspaper, based in Guangzhou.

The group also received statements from a judicial official who reportedly had access to the number of executions carried out each year.

China is thought to have executed fewer people following a 2007 decision to give the Supreme People's Court the authority to review all death sentences.

Dui Hua says 39 percent of all death penalty cases have been sent to the court for review and that fewer than 10 percent of the verdicts have been overturned.

In recent years, China has also reduced the number of crimes that carry the death penalty, though executions are still carried out as punishment for some non-violent crimes, such as drug trafficking and corruption.

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