"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 2, 2015

China executes more people than rest of world combined: Amnesty International

In a single year, it executed more people than the rest of the world combined.

But exactly how many death row prisoners have been killed in China remains top secret.

Amnesty International estimates at least 1000 people were executed by the Asian powerhouse in 2014 alone.

In its Death Penalty 2014 report, the human rights group said it actually believed the real number of people being put to death in China each year was in the "thousands", conceding the true figure was impossible to determine.

And with more than 50 offences punishable by death and a startling 99 per cent conviction rate, it is perhaps the one country in the world where you don't want to be accused of committing a crime.

At least one Australian resident, New Zealand-born Peter Gardiner, is facing the prospect of a Chinese firing squad after being accused of smuggling ice into the country with his girfriend, Sydney woman Kalynda Davis, who has since been returned to Australia.

The annual report names China among 22 nations which still carry out executions, despite the scrapping of capital punishment in more than 140 others.

And unlike other nations, China does not reveal its official figures to the world.

Amnesty International spokesman Rose Kulak said the conservative estimate of 1000 deaths was obtained via non-government agencies, families who've had bodies returned to them and activists on the ground.

"The Chinese Government treats executions as a state secret," she said.

"In China you can get the death penalty for a wide scope of crimes (roughly 55 different crimes). This includes burglary, burning down a shop or accepting a bribe.

"The lack of fairness in trials, which sees on average a 99 % conviction rate and a huge number of charges for which you can face the death penalty, is why there's such a massive execution tally in China, and why the exact number remains a secret."

Just last month, a Chinese court sentenced a man to death for a 1996 rape and murder, after admitting it had earlier executed the wrong man by mistake for the same crime.

Zhao Zhihong, 42, confessed to the attack in 2005, after an innocent Huugjilt, 18, had already been put to death. He was posthumously exonerated and his family awarded compensation.

Amnesty said while the numbers of executions around the world had fallen by 22 %, the number of people being sentenced to their deaths had skyrocketed by 28 %.

It said 607 official executions were recorded across the world, excluding China's figures, with countries using the death penalty "in a flawed attempt to tackle crime, terrorism and internal instability."

Amnesty also said the spike in death sentences being handed out - 2466 globally - was largely due to recent mass sentencing carried out across Egypt and Nigeria.

While China remained the world's top executioner, Iran came in second with 289 deaths officially announced. It is understood a further 450 which have not been officially acknowledged.


China, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq all executed people accused of terrorism offences, according to Amnesty.

Pakistan attracted global headlines when it announced 8000 prisoners on death row would soon be executed.

It lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in all capital cases after restarting executions for terrorism offences in the wake of a Taliban school massacre in December last year.

In China, authorities used the death penalty as a punitive tool in the "Strike Hard" campaign against unrest in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, executing at least 21 people during the year related to separate attacks, Amnesty figures reveal.

North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia continued to use the death penalty as a tool to suppress political dissent, while Jordan ended an 8-year moratorium in December, putting 11 murder convicts to death.

The government claimed it was a move to end a surge in violent crime.

In Indonesia, the government announced plans to execute mainly drug traffickers to tackle a public safety "national emergency".

Among the methods used to kill in 2014 were beheading, hanging, lethal injection and firing squad.

In Saudi Arabia and Iran, executions are carried out in public, often by beheading and hanging.

People were executed for a range of crimes including robbery, drug-related offences, economic offences, adultery, blasphemy and even sorcery.


Little is known about those on death row in China, however recent cases involving Australian citizens have brought it into the global spotlight.

New Zealand-born Australian resident Peter Gardiner is among the thousands understood to be facing the firing squad in China.

Gardiner was allegedly caught with 30 kilograms of methamphetamine, worth up to $80 million, with Australian woman Kalynda Davis earlier this year.

The pair were busted after meeting on Tinder and travelling to China on a whim. However, while Mr Gardiner awaits his fate, Ms Davis has returned to Australia after top secret negotiations led by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saw her secretly flown back to Sydney.

Source: news.com.au, April 2, 2015

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