Apart from satisfying a need for revenge, it is not easy to see why some countries continue with the death penalty.
For the state to take a life as a punishment for taking a life doesn't seem a very civilised way of doing things but despite it being abolished in most continues, it still goes on and in 2012 there were 21 countries who dealt with their more unsavoury members of society by hanging, injecting or in some cases chopping their head of with a sword in the town centre.
Amnesty International have gathered together the statistics and the top state executor is China who refused to hand over the data but Amnesty counted the executee's number is measured in the thousands.
The second highest state executor was Iran (314), then Iraq (129) and Saudi Arabia (79) with the US fifth in the list, executing 43 of their prisoners.
The rest of the list is made up of Yemen (28), Sudan (19), Afghanistan (14), Gambia (9), Japan (7), Somalia (6), Taiwan (6), Palestinian Authority (6), North Korea (6), South Sudan (5), Belarus (3), Botswana (2), Pakistan (1), India (1), Bangladesh (1), UAE (1)
While 28 countries carried out executions in 2003, the Amnesty figure reflects a decline of use of the death penalty as punishment from a decade earlier, Latvia being the latest to abolish the use of the death penalty meaning that there are nearly five times as many countries not executing prisoners as those that still do. Looking at the names of the countries on the list, some you are not surprised to see there while some you hope would be embarrassed to find themselves included with such company.