NEW YORK (AP) -- Amnesty International says the United States remains near the top of the global list of nations carrying out executions and was the only Western democracy to use the practice last year.
The rights group's annual review of worldwide death penalty trends says America's 43 executions in 2011 ranked it fifth in the world in capital punishment, down from 46 a year earlier, as some states move toward abolishing the death penalty.
Meanwhile, a surge of executions last year in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen pushed the worldwide total higher than the year before.
Some 18,750 people in 20 nations remained on death row at the end of the year.
China executes thousands of people annually, many more than the rest of the world put together, but Amnesty says figures are a state secret.
Amnesty calls the death penalty "inappropriate."