Monday, 31 August 2009

China: Lethal injection spreads in north-east

More NE Chinese cities to adopt lethal injection
From Xinhua, 24 August 2009

SHENYANG, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- All 14 cities in northeast China's Liaoning Province are expected to have adopted the lethal injection as the means of execution by the end of the year, putting an end to shooting, the provincial higher people's court announced Monday.

Liaoning had 10 cities that used lethal injection by the end of last year and another four cities would follow this year, said Zuo Lianbi, vice president of the Higher People's Court of Liaoning, at a press conference.

Zuo also called on courts of the four cities to prepare venues and train staff for the injection, which would be less painful for convicted criminals and preserve their physical integrity.

Lethal injection was first used in Liaoning in 2001 to execute two convicted murderers in Shenyang, the regional capital.

Shooting was the only means of execution in China under the Criminal Law that took effect in 1979, but the revised 1996 version of the Code of Criminal Procedure stipulated that lethal injection was also allowed.

The first lethal injection in the country was conducted in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, in southwest China, on March 28, 1997.

In 2001, the Supreme Court of China called on courts at all levels to gradually adopt lethal injection for people given death sentences.

Related stories:
More lethal injections for Chinese province -- 19 February 2009
AI condemns China's expanded lethal injection -- 5 January 2008
China: Another province takes up the needle -- 20 June 2006

Friday, 28 August 2009

China: Demand for clemency

Amnesty International has issued the following urgent action appeal for a man who could be executed within days. Tang Yanan was convicted of an economic crime, reportedly after he was tortured to confess and given an unfair trial.


The Anhui Provincial High People’s Court rejected Tang Yanan’s appeal against the death penalty on 12 August. China’s Supreme People's Court in Beijing, is reviewing his sentence. Tang Yanan could be executed within days if it upholds the sentence.

After what appears to have been an unfair trial the Bozhou City Intermediate People’s Court in Anhui province, convicted Tang Yanan on 11 December 2008, of "fraudulent raising of public funds". According to the Chinese press, he and approximately 20 other co-defendants illegally obtained 970 million Yuan in public funds (approximately US$142 million) between 2004 and 2007. The money was for a deer breeding centre to cull deer antlers which could be used in Chinese herbal medicines. They managed to attract nearly 50,000 investors from more than 110 districts and counties in seven provinces by offering investors high profit returns.

The Chinese press reported that Tang Yanan admitted his guilt. However, during the appeal hearing he withdrew his confession saying that he confessed under torture. Despite this, Anhui Provincial People’s High Court upheld the guilty verdict. At the same time, the appeal court reduced the sentence of several co-defendants who were sentenced to various terms from three years’ to 15 years’ imprisonment. It is unclear whether Tang Yanan has access to his family or legal representation of his own choice.

There are concerns with the consistency in the application of economic criminal charges in China. Earlier in 2009, Du Yimin, a businesswoman who was executed on 5 August, was also found guilty of "fraudulent raising of public funds." Both her defense and Tang Yanan’s argued that they should have been convicted of the lesser offence of "illegally collecting public deposits," which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment and a fine of 500,000 Yuan (US$73,000) because their intent had not been to commit fraud but to genuinely invest funds in legitimate enterprises.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Mandarin or your own language:
  • Urging the authorities not to execute Tang Yanan;
  • calling on the authorities to ensure that Tang Yanan has access to his family and legal representation of his choosing and urging the authorities to guarantee that he is not subject to torture or other ill-treatment while in custody.
  • urging the National People’s Congress to introduce a legal procedure for clemency;
  • urging the authorities to establish an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, as provided by UN General Assembly resolution 62/149, of 18 December 2007.


President of the Supreme People's Court
WANG Shengjun Yuanzhang
Zuigao Renmin Fayuan
27 Dongjiaomin Xiang
Beijingshi 100745
People's Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 65292345
Salutation: Dear President

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

The death penalty is applicable for 68 offences in China, including non-violent ones. China executes more people every year than any other country in the world. Amnesty International estimated that China carried out at least 1,718 executions and sentenced 7,003 people to death in 2008. These figures represent a minimum - real figures are undoubtedly much higher. A US-based NGO that is focused on advancing human rights in China, the Dui Hua Foundation, estimates that between 5,000 and 6,000 people were executed that year, based on figures obtained from local officials. The official statistics on death sentences and executions are classified as state secrets.

In January 2007, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) review for all death sentences, which had been scrapped in 1982, was restored. All death sentences are now reviewed by the SPC, which has the power to approve, revise or remand death sentences. Chinese authorities have reported a drop in executions since the SPC resumed this review. Nevertheless, the application of the death penalty remains shrouded in secrecy in China, and statistics on death sentences and executions are classified as state secrets. Without access to such information it is impossible to make a full and informed analysis of death penalty developments in China, or to say if there has been a reduction in its use.

No one who is sentenced to death in China receives a fair trial in accordance with international human rights standards. Many have had confessions accepted despite saying in court that these were extracted under torture; have had to prove themselves innocent, rather than be proven guilty; and have had limited access to legal counsel.

UA:226/09 Index: ASA 17/046/2009, Issue Date: 27 August 2009

Related stories:
China: Businesswoman shot after unfair trial -- 12 August 2009
DP improvements not for economic crimes: China -- 10 March 2009
China: Death over milk, but no official answers -- 29 January 2009
China: Executions to preserve order, control -- 12 December 2008
Judge backs harsh sentences: China -- 20 April 2008
Party claims economic penalty 'prudent' -- 4 August, 2007

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Thailand: Civil libertarians condemn executions

Statement by the Thailand Union for Civil Liberty, 25 August 2009

Statement by UCL
It is wrong that Thailand has executed two men on 24th August 2009:

It ignores the majority vote of the United Nations General Assembly in December 2007 and again in December 2008 in favour of a universal moratorium on the death penalty.

It flouts the greater certainty expressed world wide that the death penalty is a transgression of the most basic of all human rights, the right to life.

It goes against the interpretation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights expressed to representatives of the Royal Thai government by the UN Human Rights Committee, on 28th July 2003, that drug offenses did not constitute a crime subject to Capital Punishment within the terms of the Covenant which it has ratified.

The execution of the two with a mere one hour notice is a flagrant transgression of the procedures established by the UN for the enactment of Capital Punishment.

It is a useless measure of no greater consequence than other punishment in the fight against drugs.

It is a cruel and inhumane punishment, with no place in a civilised state.

It is counter to the Buddhist belief in the sanctity of life.

Danthong Breen
Union for Civil Liberty, Thailand

Related stories:
Thailand: Executions a backward step -- 27 August 2009
Thailand: Drug dealers put to death -- 26 August 2009

Thailand: Executions a backward step

Thailand: resumption of executions a backwards step
Public statement by Amnesty International, 26 August 2009

As country after country abandons its use of judicial state killing, Amnesty International deeply regrets the resumption of executions in Thailand after a six-year hiatus.

On 24 August 2009 two men were executed by lethal injection at Bang Khwang prison, central Thailand.

Bundit Jaroenwanit, aged 45, and Jirawat Poompreuk, aged 52, were convicted of drug trafficking on 29 March 2001 and subsequently sentenced to death. They were reportedly only given 60 minutes’ notice before their executions were carried out.

Although Thailand continued to hand down death sentences, they did not execute anyone for six years, which the abolitionist movement had welcomed as an encouraging sign from the Asia region.

In the last 10 months, the UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly for a moratorium on executions, while Burundi, Togo and the US state of New Mexico have abolished the death penalty. The government of Thailand should follow their example and urgently review its use of the death penalty.

There is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime. The government of Thailand must join the international trend away from capital punishment.

The last executions in Thailand were carried out in 2003, when four people were executed by lethal injection. These were the first executions by lethal injection, which had replaced execution by shooting in the same year.

In its 2005 Consideration of Thailand’s report, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern that the death penalty was not restricted to the most serious crimes and was applicable to drug trafficking in Thailand.

Sixteen countries in Asia still have laws that provide for the death penalty for drug-related offences. As many countries in the region do not make information on the death penalty publicly available, it is impossible to calculate exactly how many drug-related death sentences are imposed there. However, in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, reports indicate that a high proportion of death sentences are imposed on those convicted of drug offences.

AI Index: ASA 39/006/2009

Related stories:
Thailand: Drug dealers put to death -- 26 August 2009

China admits majority of organs from executed

As China announces a national organ donation system, official media admit the system will replace transplant organs from executed prisoners, which "experts estimate account for more than 65 percent of total donors".

From China Daily, 26 August 2009

Public call for organ donations
By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-08-26 07:38

China launched a national organ donation system yesterday in a bid to gradually shake off its long-time dependence on executed prisoners as a major source of organs for transplants and as part of efforts to crack down on organ trafficking.

The system, operated mainly by the Red Cross Society of China with assistance from the Ministry of Health, will begin as pilot projects in 10 provinces and cities.

"The system is in the public interest and will benefit patients regardless of social status and wealth in terms of fairness in organ allocation and better procurement," said Vice-Minister of Health Huang Jiefu.

Under the system, the Red Cross is responsible for encouraging post-death organ donations among the public, receiving donor registrations, keeping a database, starting a fund to provide financial assistance for needy, surviving families of donors and overseeing the allocation of donated organs according to set principles.

"Transplants should not be a privilege for the rich," Huang said.

The late, famous Chinese actor Fu Biao received two liver transplants within several months in 2005, raising doubts about the fairness of organ allocation, given that the waiting time for the general public can be years - even if one is lucky enough to get a match, let alone have a second surgery.

Currently about one million people in China need organ transplants each year while only 1 percent receive one, official statistics show.

Only about 130 people on the mainland have signed up to donate their organs since 2003, according to research on the promotion of organ donation after death by professor Chen Zhonghua with the Institute of Organ Transplantation of Tongji Hospital.

The system will help find more willing donors who didn't know how to donate, said Jiang Yiman, the society's deputy director at the launch yesterday in Shanghai. "The Chinese have a tradition of helping others in need and the potential of organ donations from the public is yet to be tapped," she said.

Organ donors
Executed prisoners, who experts estimate account for more than 65 percent of total donors, "are definitely not a proper source for organ transplants," said Vice-Minister Huang.

That the rights of death-row prisoners to donate is fully respected and written consent from them is required, he told China Daily.

Qian Jianmin, chief transplant surgeon with the Shanghai Huashan Hospital, said hospitals performing transplants not only treat patients getting organs from executed prisoners, but have to deal with other levels of government, including the justice department.

"Corruption can arise during the process," he said.

Some just ignore legal procedures regarding organ donations from executed prisoners and make a fat profit, Huang said.

All costs are passed on to patients. Sometimes the recipient pays up to 200,000 yuan ($29,000) for a kidney, not including other medical services.

China issued an organ transplant law in 2007 that bans organ trafficking and only allows donations from living people to blood relatives and spouses, plus someone considered "emotionally connected."

However, organ middlemen have been faking documents in order to make a person who is desperately in need of money be considered "emotionally connected" to the recipients, reports said.

Living transplants increased to 40 percent of total transplants from 15 percent in 2006, Chen Zhonghua said.

"That's one of the daunting tasks facing us as we try to end the organ trade by establishing this system," Huang noted.

Other goals include preventing organ tourism, improving transplant quality, better defining donors' rights and satisfying patients' needs for transplants in an ethical manner.

"With more organ donations from the public, the total cost for transplants will decrease," he said.

The exact cost for transplants varies from place to place and largely remains an industry secret. But experts said it's at least 100,000 yuan.

Praise for initiative
"We welcome the emphasis put on fair practice in organ procurement, allocation and transplant, echoing the WHO guiding principles on transplantation," said Luc Noel, coordinator of clinical procedures in the essential health technologies department at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva.

"China is establishing the national network and authority necessary to initiate and maximize organ donations from deceased donors and thus progress towards the global mainstream in organ donation and transplantation," he said.

The system will be operated at both State and provincial levels. Donated organs would be allocated locally first and then nationally.

"My colleagues and I welcome the system, which will facilitate our efforts to save more patients and help medical workers concentrate more on practicing medicine," said transplant surgeon Qian, whose hospital performs about 150 transplants each year.

Wang Yuling, a young white-collar worker in Beijing, said she'd donate if it really helps someone in need instead of making someone rich.

The pilot projects will take place across the country, including Shanghai, Tianjin, Fujian (Xiamen), Jiangsu (Nanjing), Hubei (Wuhan), Liaoning, Shandong and Jiangxi. The system will then be introduced nationwide, Jiang said.

When asked for a specific timetable when the system will cover the whole country, Huang said the process took 20 years in United States.

"I hope it'll be faster in China. We are still searching for the best way," he said.

"Details about the system, like how to clearly define responsibilities for all stakeholders under the system, including the Red Cross and health administrations, are still under discussion," Jiang said.

(China Daily 08/26/2009 page3)

[Emphasis added]

Related stories:
China admits organs from prisoners -- 6 December 2006
Stop transplant tourism: surgeon -- 28 November 2006
China restricts organs from executions -- 29 March 2006

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

PNG, Solomons advised against death penalty

No death penalty, expert advises PNG, Solomons
From ABC Radio Australia, 20 August 2009

Last Updated: Thu, 20 Aug 2009 14:18:00 +1000

An Australian criminologist says Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea should not consider introducing the death penalty against violent crimes.

Both countries have high rates of crime and are considering capital punishment.

Professor Paul Wilson, from Australia's Bond University, in Queensland, says there is evidence in research from across the world that the death penalty does not reduce the rate of murder and violent crime.

He says despite this, many politicians choose to call for its introduction because they are aware there may be people in their electorates who could support it.

Professor Wilson has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat more needs to be done to study patterns of crime in PNG and the Solomons to determine better prevention and appropriate penalties.

"If you are going to reduce the murder rate or violence rate, you have to first of all analyse exactly how the violence is occuring, by whom, at what time, where, and the motiviationsm" he said.

"And that is a fairly substantial research job and then you have to apply quite well-known crime prevention methods, which will vary according to the location.

"You work it with a combination of zero-type policing."

Thailand: Drug dealers put to death

From The Bangkok Post, 25 August 2009


Two convicted drug traffickers at Bang Khwang prison have been executed by lethal injection.

Bundit Jaroenwanit, 45, and Jirawat Poompreuk, 52, yesterday became the country's fifth and sixth people to be executed by lethal injection, which replaced death by shooting in 2003.

The atmosphere at Bang Khwang prison in Nonthaburi was subdued yesterday when the two learned they were about to die.

They were given 60 minutes to call or write to their loved ones. They were then offered a last meal and a chance to listen to a sermon from a monk invited from Wat Bang Praek Tai.

They were blindfolded and given flowers, candles and incense sticks before being taken to the execution chamber.

The two, their legs manacled, turned their faces towards the temple as they were laid out on beds.

They received three injections. The first was a sedative, the second a muscle relaxant and the third a drug that stops the heart beating.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

South Korea loses anti-death penalty voice

A tribute from Amnesty International

Kim Dae-jung, human rights champion and former South Korean president, dies
19 August 2009

Former South Korea President Kim Dae-jung died on Tuesday, aged 85. A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at reconciliation with North Korea, he leaves a legacy of commitment to human rights and democracy.

A former prisoner of conscience, Kim Dae-jung was a lifelong activist who sought to raise the profile of human rights both in South Korea and around the world. Once a death row inmate, he was a tireless campaigner against the death penalty.

"Kim Dae-jung was a hero and inspiration to Amnesty International and many people around the world for his uncompromising stance and struggle for democracy in South Korea during the seventies and eighties," said Amnesty International's Secretary General, Irene Khan.

"Amnesty International is privileged to have campaigned on his behalf, as prisoner of conscience, during his years of imprisonment and when he was given the death sentence.

"Kim Dae-jung was considered a dangerous radical in the 1970s and 1980s, during South Korea's decades of military dictatorship. He survived assassination and abduction attempts, walked free from a death sentence and was exiled twice.

Over several video interviews with Amnesty International in April, Kim Dae-jung discussed his childhood (he was the son of a middle-class farmer), his experiences as a prisoner of conscience, the attempt on his life in Tokyo in 1973 and his time as president. One of the main topics of conversation though, was the death penalty. He said:

"A human should not kill a human. We need to abolish the death penalty in Asia…If the death penalty were abolished, it would change the atmosphere in Asia and also have a positive knock-on effect in Central & South America and Africa and the rest of the world…the issue of death penalty is one of the most serious issues confronting human beings, and I hope that, if possible, the Asian countries will set an example in sorting out this problem.

"As a human rights activist, Kim Dae-jung was subjected to human rights violations for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

He was kidnapped in Tokyo's Grand Palace hotel in 1973 by South Korean agents. He was dragged to a ship where he said they planned to dump him at sea. The US government intervened to save him and the agents then abandoned their plan. The assassination attempt was in apparent response to his public opposition to the rewriting of the Constitution, which gave more power to General Park Chung-hee, the country’s military ruler.

Kim Dae-jung spent much of the 1970s under house arrest or in prison. It was during this period that he was first adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

He was arrested in March 1976, as a prominent signatory of a "Declaration for National Democratic Salvation". He was arrested again in May 1980, just before the Kwangju Massacre, which resulted in the deaths of civilians who had risen up against the military dictatorship. He was accused of having "instigated" agitation. He was sentenced to death in September 1980.

Amnesty International, and many other human rights and pressure groups, campaigned vigorously on Kim Dae-jung's behalf throughout that period.

In 1981, following widespread international protests and campaigning by international organizations, his death sentence was commuted; in 1982 he was released on a "suspended" sentence. He then went to live in Boston where he taught at Harvard University.

In February 1985, he was placed under house arrest again on the day he returned from two years' exile in the USA. House arrest and harassment continued until February 1986.

During a visit to London in 1993, Kim Dae-jung presented Amnesty International with calligraphy he had written, of four Chinese characters meaning “All Nations are One Family”.

He was elected President of South Korea in December 1997. It was the first time in the country's history that the power of government had been passed from the ruling party president to an opposition leader.

During his presidency Kim-Dae-jung became the first and so far only Korean to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000. This was for his instigation of the so-called "Sunshine Policy", promoting closer ties with communist North Korea.

Kim-Dae-jung’s term as President of South Korea ended in 2003.

"As fellow Nobel Laureates, we were honoured to share President Kim’s ardent opposition to the death penalty, and we were moved by his dedication to campaigning for human rights," said Irene Khan.

Related stories:
South Korea: Kim Dae-jung's call for abolition -- 6 March 2006
South Korea – former president calls for abolition -- 27 February 2006

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

China: Businesswoman shot after unfair trial

Amnesty International has issued this update to its appeal on behalf of Du Yimin, a businesswoman who was executed last week after being convicted of "fraudulent raising of public funds".


Du Yimin, a businesswoman convicted of "fraudulent raising of public funds" was executed on 5 August after China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) approved her sentence.

Du Yimin was sentenced to death in March 2008. Her appeal was rejected on 13 January 2009. According to the verdict, she had illegally raised approximately 700 million yuan (US$102 million) from hundreds of people investing in her beauty parlours. According to the Chinese press, she had obtained the money between 2003 and 2006 by offering investors monthly returns of up to 10%.

Her lawyer has stated that Du Yimin should have been convicted for the lesser offence of "illegally collecting public deposits," which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment and a fine of 500,000 yuan (US$73,000). Du Yimin claimed that she had had no intention of keeping the money, but had intended to invest it in her companies, and that she had obtained it without using fraudulent means.

Du Yimin’s death sentence has caused a debate about the consistency in the application of the death penalty in the People's Republic of China. The day before she was sentenced to death, an official who used 15.8 billion yuan of public funds to cover his personal spending was sentenced to a fixed term of imprisonment.

Amnesty international believes Du Yimin did not receive a fair trial in line with international standards and condemns her execution.

Further information on UA: 42/09 Index: ASA 17/007/2009
People's Republic of China
Date: 07 August 2009

Amnesty International's original appeal, from 13 February 2009, is here.

Related stories:
DP improvements not for economic crimes: China -- 10 March 2009
China: Death over milk, but no official answers -- 29 January 2009
China: Executions to preserve order, control -- 12 December 2008
Judge backs harsh sentences: China -- 20 April 2008
Party claims economic penalty 'prudent' -- 4 August, 2007

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

South Korea: Human Rights Body Challenges Death Penalty

By Kang Shin-who
From The Korea Times, 4 August 2009

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRC) filed a petition with the Constitutional Court Tuesday to end capital punishment.

In the petition, the commission said the nation has no authority to deprive citizens of life, as life is the most fundamental right of human beings.

"Even in extreme situations, human life shouldn't be a tool or an object to realize state policy or promote public interest," it said.

"The death penalty is also against humanitarianism and we cannot rule out the possibility of misjudgments," it added.

Historically, human rights groups here and overseas have campaigned to abolish the death penalty.

Last September, the Gwangju High Court filed a petition with the Constitutional Court, claiming that the government should come up with a punishment between the death penalty and life sentencing.

The case is currently under review.

A fisherman was sentenced to the death penalty in his trial for killing four tourists and asked his appellate court judge to lodge the petition, claiming that capital punishment was unconstitutional.

Accepting his suggestion, the appellate trial will be suspended until the Constitutional Court reviews the petition.

According to the Ministry of Justice, Korea has 59 convicts on death row. Korea has been a de facto country free of capital punishment as no executions have been carried out here for the past 11 years.

Related stories:
South Korea: Murders spark debate on death penalty -- 28 February 2009
South Korea: Challenge to death penalty law -- 13 October 2008
South Korea: Renewed calls for abolition -- 12 October 2007
South Korea death penalty hearing -- 10 April 2006
South Korea: Kim Dae-jung's call for abolition -- 6 March 2006
South Korea – former president calls for abolition -- 27 February 2006

Monday, 3 August 2009

Sri Lanka considering death penalty again

Sri Lanka mulls reintroducing death penalty
From The Hindu, 26 July 2009

Even as it has 273 prisoners on death row, Sri Lankan government plans to reintroduce capital punishment due to rising number of heinous crimes.

The new Justice and Law Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda is slated to discuss the possibility of implementing the death penalty with President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a result of increase in number of crimes in the country.

According to officials, there are about 273 prisoners in death row but they could not be hanged without the approval of the President. The last person to be executed in Sri Lanka was Maru Sira in 2003.

"Serious crimes have been on the increase in the recent past. Despite the human rights issues, the implementation of capital punishment has acted as a deterrent for those committing such crimes in many countries.

"Even in the USA, several states have executed those convicted of serious crimes," Justice and Law Reforms Secretary Suhada Gamlath said.

The prison authorities have been compelled to provide security to a large number of death row prisoners, Gamlath told reporters last week.

Organised crime, major armed robberies and heinous crimes are rapidly increasing and the law enforcement authorities are battling in vain to control them, he said, adding that reintroduction of capital punishment must be considered.

Related stories:
No death penalty plans in Sri Lanka -- 10 January 2007

China again claims execution decline

Fewer executions expected, top judge says
By Xie Chuanjiao
From China Daily, 29 July 2009

The number of criminal executions will be reduced in China, with the sentence of death penalty with reprieve handed out more often in courts.

Zhang Jun, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said legislation will be improved to restrict the number of death sentences and the SPC will tighten restrictions on the use of capital punishment.

The sentence of "death penalty with reprieve" would be used more often in courts, Zhang said.

Death penalty with reprieve can be commuted to life in prison and later reduced to 20 years and even lessened further for good behavior.

"As it is impossible for the country to abolish capital punishment under current realities and social security conditions, it is an important effort to strictly control the application of the penalty by judicial organs," Zhang said in an interview with Legal Daily.

"Judicial departments should use the least number of death sentences as possible, and death penalties should not be given to those having a reason for not being executed," Zhang said.

He said the death penalty has had strong support from many people for more than 5,000 years and that the punishment was seen as "an eye for an eye and a life for a life".

The country will retain death sentence, but it should be applied only to "an extremely small number" of serious offenders, he said.

The SPC has been working to ensure that the death sentence is given only to those who have committed extremely serious or heinous crimes that lead to grave social consequences.

Zhang said the highest court exercises extreme caution in handing down the death sentence to those guilty of killing family members or neighbors over disputes.

People who plead guilty, compensate family members of the victims, or are pardoned by the latter are generally given more lenient punishments.

Last week, the SPC overturned a death sentence handed to a man surnamed Shao, who killed his lover when he found out she was having an affair with another man in September 2006.

Shao's crime was judged as serious enough for capital punishment, but the SPC considered the woman was also partly responsible.

Shao had shown regret and compensation was paid to the victim's family, the SPC said.

Moreover the case did not have a major social impact, so the SPC suspended Shao's capital punishment.

In January 2007, the SPC reserved the right to review all death penalty decisions made by lower courts.

Provincial high courts had handled appeals until that point but had been criticized after reports of miscarriage of justice.

With the SPC given the sole power to review and ratify all death sentences, the country is applying fewer death sentences. An average of 15 percent of sentences were overturned in 2007 and 10 percent were overturned in 2008, insiders told China Daily.

Last year a total of 159,020 criminals were sentenced to death, life imprisonment, or more than five years in prison, accounting for 15.8 percent of all criminal sentences.

Related stories:
DP improvements not for economic crimes: China -- 10 March 2009
China: Death over milk, but no official answers -- 29 January 2009
China: Executions to preserve order, control -- 12 December 2008
Judge backs harsh sentences: China -- 20 April 2008
Party claims economic penalty 'prudent' -- 4 August, 2007
China: Courts claim fewer executions -- 31 July, 2007
China call for cautious death penalty - again -- 8 April, 2007
China: Judges try to limit death penalty -- 14 November, 2006
China reforms good, but not enough -- 8 November, 2006
China: Supreme Court review from January -- 1 November, 2006
Political questions over China's new appeal judges -- 2 July, 2006
China to retain death penalty, with reforms -- 13 March 2006

Mongolia: Appeal for death row pardon

Amnesty International issued the following urgent appeal on 30 July 2009 on behalf of Mongolian man facing execution for murder. It is extremely rare for details of capital cases in Mongolia to be made public, which greatly limits the ability of independent media to report on the death penalty in that country and of human rights activists to place pressure on the government.

Information about the death penalty in Mongolia is considered a state secret, even to the extent that the government does not confirm how executions are carried out.

[Note: This action appeal was updated on 14 October, after Buuveibaatar was granted a pardon. Read the update here.]

Urgent Action
Call for pardon for Mongolian on death row

Buuveibaatar, a 33-year-old Mongolian man, is facing execution for murder. He has exhausted all his appeals, and his life will only be spared if Mongolia's President grants him a pardon.

Buuveibaatar was sentenced to death by the Bayangol District Court, in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, on 1 August 2008. He was found guilty of murdering his former girlfriend’s new boyfriend in January 2008. His father claims the crime was committed in self-defence.

The day after the murder, Buuveibaatar was arrested and taken to Bayangol District police station, where he was interrogated overnight without access to a lawyer. His father says that Buuveibaatar was beaten in police custody, and confessed to the crime during interrogation.

Buuveibaatar's death sentence has been upheld by Mongolia's Supreme Court. His family wrote to the former President of Mongolia to appeal for a pardon on 1 April 2009, and again to the newly elected President, Elbegdorj, on 2 July 2009. So far there has been no response to the appeals for a pardon.

Executions in Mongolia are carried out in secret. The families and lawyers of those on death row receive no prior notification of the execution. If Buuveibaatar's appeal for a pardon is turned down, he could be executed at any time.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English, Mongolian or your own language:

  • Calling on the President to grant an immediate pardon to Buuveibaatar;
  • Calling for an immediate end to the practice of carrying out executions in secret;
  • Urging the President to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, as provided by UN General Assembly resolution 62/149, adopted on 18 December 2007.


President Elbegdorj
Office of the President
State House
Fax: +976 51 26 1273
Salutation: Dear President

The death penalty in Mongolia is considered a state secret; and no official statistics are made available relating to death sentences, executions or the number of people on death row. Families are not notified in advance when an execution will take place and the body is not returned to the family after execution. At least nine people are believed to be on death row in Mongolia.

UA: 206/09 Index: ASA 30/002/2009
Issue Date: 30 July 2009