(CNN) -- The British government condemned China's execution of a British national Tuesday on drug smuggling charges.
"I ... am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. "I am particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken."
Akmal Shaikh was convicted of carrying up to 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) of heroin at the Urumqi Airport in September 2007. According to Chinese law, 50 grams (1.76 ounces) is the threshold for the death penalty.
Amnesty International reports that at least 2,390 people were known to have been executed in 25 countries and at least 8,864 people were sentenced to death in 52 countries around the world. China, by far, accounts for the majority of death sentences. Of the 58 retentionist countries, only 25 are known to have carried out executions in 2008. Ninety three percent of all known executions took place in five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the US.
The following countries carried out executions in 2008: China (at least 1,718), Iran (at least 346), Saudi Arabia (at least 102), US (37), Pakistan (at least 36), Iraq (at least 34), Viet Nam (at least 19), Afghanistan (at least 17), North Korea (at least 15), Japan (15), Yemen (at least 13), Indonesia (10), Libya (at least 8), Bangladesh (5), Belarus (4), Egypt (at least 2), Malaysia (at least 1), Mongolia (at least 1), Sudan (at least 1), Syria (at least 1), United Arab Emirates (at least 1), Bahrain (1), Botswana (1), Singapore (at least 1) and St Kitts and Nevis (1).
The U.S. typically considers itself an advanced society, but examination of the company it keeps in terms of nations continuing to use capital punishment calls that judgment of being civilized into question. A majority of nations have either abolished capital punishment or have moratoria in place. It will become increasingly difficult to continue to influence other nations while the U.S. clings to this failed public policy.