Italian anti-death penalty group honors Pope Francis

AP News
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Posted: Jul 31, 2015 6:32 AM

ROME (AP) — An Italian anti-death penalty group has honored Pope Francis with the prize "Abolitionist of the Year" for his strong position against the death penalty and other forms of "inhumane and degrading" punishments.

"Hands off Cain" on Friday cited Francis' moves to remove from the Vatican criminal code life sentences, which he called "a death penalty in disguise." The pope has frequently lashed out against the death penalty, calling it "inadmissible" no matter the offense.

The Italian group in its annual report said the number of executions carried out worldwide rose to 3,576 last year from 3,511 a year earlier, with China carrying out two-thirds of the total. China was followed by Iran with at least 800 and Saudi Arabia with 88. It said 33 people were executed in the U.S.