The US government is to resume executions of death row inmates after a hiatus of 16 years.

Lethal injections have been scheduled for five convicted child killers, beginning in December.

Across the United States there are more than 2,600 people on death row, but the vast majority are under the jurisdiction of individual states.

A total of 62 prisoners are on the federal US government’s death row, and the new policy of implementing sentences applies to them.

The move follows Donald Trump’s vocal support for capital punishment, which has included praise for Singapore’s application of the death penalty, and suggestions it should be extended to drug traffickers.

Federal executions had lapsed since 2003 due to several factors including doubts over the efficacy of lethal injection drugs, and opposition from some justice department officials in the Obama administration.

Bill Barr, the current US attorney general, said: "The justice department upholds the rule of law and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system."

He said the five scheduled to die had been convicted of "murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society – children and the elderly," and their final appeals were already exhausted.

The first inmate to be executed, on Dec 9, will be Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist convicted of murdering a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl.

Also among those given executed dates was Lezmond Mitchell, who was convicted of murdering a woman and her granddaughter.

The others were Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped and murdered a teenage girl, Alfred Bourgeois, who sexually molested and killed his young daughter, and Dustin Lee Honken, who shot dead five people including two children.

High profile prisoners on federal death row, who were not among the five, include the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and Charleston church mass shooter Dylann Roof.

The move comes after a procession of states abolished the death penalty, or allowed it to lapse, over the last decade. 

In March, California, the state with the largest death row, introduced a official moratorium on executions.

The five federal inmates are all due to be executed at a US government jail in Indiana.

Lethal injections will be performed using a single drug – phenobarbital – replacing the three-drug protocol previously used in federal executions.

However, Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said there could be legal challenges to that.

He said: "You can’t just say it and have it happen. There is a legal process for a protocol to go into effect and there is a legal process for challenging the protocol."

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