LONDON, April 10 - RAPSI. Countries are increasingly abandoning the death penalty as an official form of punishment, although a few countries did resume the practice in 2012, Amnesty International said in its annual report on capital punishment trends.

Countries which had not used the death penalty for some time, but resumed the punishment last year include India, Japan, Pakistan, Gambia and Iraq, according to the London-based rights group.

Meanwhile, a number of countries which have not entirely abandoned the death penalty extended a moratorium on executions through 2012.

At least 682 executions were known to have been carried out worldwide in 2012, two more than 2011, and at least 1,722 death sentences were imposed in 58 countries, compared with 1,923 imposed in 63 countries the year before, the report said.

However, according to Amnesty International, this information does not include China where thousands of people have been executed in secret.

The report also states that the United States remains the only country in North and South America which still uses the death penalty.