World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

China: Move to reduce executions?

China: Move to reduce executions?

The Supreme People's Court will in future review all death sentences passed in China, according to the Court's vice-president, Huang Songyou, quoted in the official Chinese media. Amnesty International welcomes this announcement as it could mean a fall in the huge number of people executed.

"This is a step in the right direction," said Amnesty International. "We hope that extra scrutiny by better qualified judges will bring about a significant reduction in the numbers of people executed in China."

"We will be watching closely to see if the reform translates into any concrete improvement," continued the organization. "Of course it will be hard even to tell if there has been a drop, as China refuses to publish full national statistics on the death penalty."

A senior Chinese legislator estimated earlier this year that China executes "nearly 10,000" people a year.

Amnesty International warned that this measure must be seen as the beginning of a process towards full abolition of the death penalty. There are still a host of failings in the Chinese legal system which jeopardize the lives of people suspected of capital crimes. There is no presumption of innocence; political pressure to pass heavy sentences intrudes into the judicial process; 'confessions' extracted under torture can be used as evidence in court; and lawyers need not be present at the initial police interrogation.

"Under such circumstances, the Chinese criminal justice system is in no position to offer fair trials to those facing the death penalty," said Amnesty International.

Extra scrutiny by the Supreme People's Court would not necessarily guarantee a fair trial. For example in December last year the Court retried a high-profile case where a gangster's death sentence had been overturned on appeal by a provincial court. It ruled that Liu Yong's death sentence was still valid despite evidence of his confession being extorted through torture, and ordered an immediate execution.

The present system of reviewing most death sentences in China allows for judges in a provincial high court to approve a death sentence that they themselves have passed. The move to re-centralise the system back to the Supreme People's Court in Beijing is expected to be enacted during the current legislative session, which ends in 2008, the year that Beijing hosts the Summer Olympics.

"Such reforms will help to protect the rights of detainees," said Amnesty International. "But they must not be seen as a substitute for full abolition of the death penalty in China, starting with a halt to all executions."

China applies the death sentence for the "most serious" crimes, which under Chinese law include corruption and many other non-violent crimes, despite an international standard which states the death penalty should be "a quite exceptional measure". Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases on the grounds that it is the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment and violates the right to life.

Take action! Protect Uighur refugees from forcible return, visit http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacKBgabaNLibb0hPub/

China in the AI Report 2004: http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacKBgabaNLjbb0hPub/

The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It violates the right to life. Visit Amnesty International's dedicated Death Penalty pages at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacKBgabaNLkbb0hPub/

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: Is This Guy The World’s Most Dangerous Thirtysomething?

Saudi Arabia has long been regarded as a pillar of stability in the Middle East, and is the essential caterer to the West’s fossil fuel needs. It is also the country that gave us Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda, and 15 of the 19 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks... More>>

ALSO:

Non-Binding Postal Vote: Australia Says Yes To Same Sex Marriage

Binoy Kampmark: Out of 150 federal seats, 133 registered affirmative totals in returning their response to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. More>>

ALSO:

Bonn Climate Change Conference: Protecting Health In Small Island States

The vision is that, by 2030, all Small Island Developing States will have health systems that are resilient to climate change and countries around the world will be reducing their carbon emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks and deliver large health benefits in carbon-emitting countries. More>>

ALSO:

Camp Shut Down: Refugees Must Be Rescued From Manus

On 31st October 2017, the detention centre on Manus Island in which the Australian Government has been holding more than 700 refugees was closed, leaving those living there in a desperate situation. More>>

ALSO:

EARLIER:

Rohingya Muslims Massacred: Restrictions On Aid Put 1000s At Risk

Amnesty: The Myanmar authorities’ restrictions on international aid in Rakhine state is putting tens of thousands of lives at risk in a region where mainly Rohingya people are already suffering horrific abuses from a disproportionate military campaign. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC