Wednesday, 1 March 2006

China's world record - 8,000 dead?

Academics in China estimate the country executes as many as 8,000 people each year. The figure, released this week by legal expert Liu Renwen, was based on information from local officials and judges. Liu Renwen has reportedly said he believes the figure is accurate.

The estimate provides a rare glimpse into the death toll of China's criminal justice system, where official information on widespread use of the death penalty remains a closely guarded secret. Statistics on the death penalty are regarded as a "state secret" in China and human rights groups have only been able to confirm a fraction of the estimated number of executions carried out each year.

By any estimate, China executes more people than the rest of the world combined, often after trials which do not conform to commonly accepted standards for a fair trial.

India's NewKerala newspaper quoted Liu Renwen as saying: "It is very stupid. How can we achieve useful reform (of the judicial system) if we don't even know the exact numbers (of executions)?"

Liu Renwen was quoted as saying the number of executions had dropped by 40 to 50 per cent since the introduction of a new criminal code in 1997.

Mr. Liu, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also told reporters this week that local bureaucratic opposition was slowing efforts by the Supreme People's Court to take over hearing appeals in all death penalty cases.

1 comment:

David Elliot said...

In case you haven't seen it, the Los Angeles times has a really good story about Japan's death penalty system today. I just blogged it at www.deathpenaltyusa.blogspot.com