[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Feb 5 07:09:51 UTC 2007
China defends use of death penalty
China defended its use of the death penalty amid an international campaign
urging the country to abolish capital punishment as part of a human rights
clean-up ahead of the 2008 Olympics.
China is expected to be a focus of the campaign, as more people are
believed to be executed here each year than in the rest of the world
combined, but Beijing said its use of capital punishment was in line with
"More than half the countries in the world have the death penalty system
and the Chinese government has all along implemented it in the spirit of
the constitution," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a press
"We control the use of the death penalty out of the respect for human
Jiang was responding to a call to be made at the World Congress Against
the Death Penalty in Paris beginning Thursday for Chinese President Hu
Jintao to stop executions ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
The gathering of activists and non-governmental organisations will also
call on China to work towards a "definitive abolition" of the death
penalty, according to a draft of their appeal released to the media.
Amnesty International said at least 1,770 people were known to have been
executed and 3,900 people sentenced to death during 2005, based on public
However human rights groups believe the real number of people executed
annually could be as high as 10,000 to 20,000.
"All the statistics, numbers and many issues related to the death penalty,
such as organ harvesting, are (shrouded in) complete secrecy," Nicholas
Bequelin of Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong told AFP.
Bequelin and other activists believe the range of crimes punishable by
death is too wide, and that the deficiency of China's legal system means
miscarriages of justice are common.
"The combination of the two is lethal," he said.
Currently, the death penalty in China is applicable to around 70 criminal
offences, such as robbery, rape and murder, but also for economic crimes
such as corruption and fraud.
Amnesty International has demanded that China reduce the number of
offences punishable by death and make public its execution statistics
before the Olympics.
"The Olympic charter talks about principles with respect to human dignity
... and the death penalty completely flies in the face of any respect to
human dignity," said Mark Allison, Amnesty's East Asia researcher in Hong
"So we want to see reforms in the death penalty in the run up to the
A recent Amnesty report said injustice was widespread in China's death
"No one who is sentenced to death in China receives a fair trial in line
with international human rights standards," it said.
"Failings include: lack of prompt access to lawyers, lack of presumption
of innocence, political interference in the judiciary and failure to
exclude evidence extracted through torture."
Despite some recent encouraging signs, such as a new rule introduced on
January 1 that requires China's highest court to review every death
sentence, Chinese scholars say ending capital punishment will not happen
any time soon.
"Maybe in 30 years' time we will not carry out the death penalty," said
Chen Zhonglin, director of law faculty at the Southwest University of
Politics and Law in Sichuan.
"(But) there are still more than 40,000 homicide cases across the country
... so this is one way of protecting innocent lives."
More information about the DeathPenalty