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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

China Considers Who Mets Out Death Penalties


justice "China considers removing death penalty decisions from lower courts "

Radio Australia carried the above linked story which cites The Beijing News quoting Supreme Court president, Xiao Yang as saying it is now considering taking back the right to verify and approve death sentences.

Currently, many death penalties are imposed by the country's more than 300 Intermediate People's Courts in its 31 provinces and are approved by the 31 Higher People's Courts. The Supreme Court has no input.

Given the fact that China executes more people per annum than the rest of the world combined must say something as to how the Death Penalty is administered in the country.

The Yining (Gulja) riots of 1997 in which protesting Uygurs were met by strong resistance by security force resulting in the reported deaths of some nine people at the scene is a case in point.

It has been claimed by several observers that subsequent to the riots upwards to 220 Uygurs were executed for taking part in the demonstration.

Such a response would appear to be grossly inappropriate to the event. Perhaps with Higher Court involvement this may not of happened ( one would hope at least).

Lower Courts it would appear administer justice in a very black and white manner with little compassion or allowances for mitigating factors.

Many of the lower court judges, I am sure, feel they are doing their "Patriotic Duty" by handing down maximum sentences, others may do so for less "noble" reasons, to curry favour with superiors or for personal ambition.

It is incredible to believe that the Supreme Court of a country is not involved in decisions of such magnitude.

Such decisions should not be left to local or lower courts and as such the reported move by the Supreme Court president should be encouraged vigorously and warmly welcomed.