Recorded executions worldwide reached 883 last year, the highest level since 2017, according to an Amnesty International report published on Tuesday that decried the Middle East and North Africa in particular.

The 2022 figure for 20 countries known to have executed people is a 53 percent increase on the previous 12 months, the global rights monitor said.

It excludes the “thousands” of prisoners put to death secretively in China, but does count the “staggering” 81 people executed in a single day in Saudi Arabia, it added.

China was believed to have led the way in the grisly ranking, ahead of Iran (576 executions), Saudi Arabia (196 — its highest number in 30 years), Egypt (24) and the United States (18).

The death penalty is also used extensively in North Korea and Vietnam but as with China, figures there remain “shrouded in secrecy”, Amnesty said in the annual report