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China is the world’s biggest executioner with the communist giant executing more people last year than the rest of the world combined, Amnesty International said in its report today, describing the country a “complete outlier” when it comes to death penalty.
“China’s horrifying use of the death penalty remains one of the country’s deadly secrets, as the authorities continue to execute thousands of people each year,” Amnesty International said in its global review of the death penalty released today.
The human rights group said a new in-depth investigation carried by it showed that the Chinese authorities enforce an elaborate secrecy system to obscure the shocking scale of executions in the country, despite repeated claims that it is making progress towards judicial transparency.
Even as executions have dropped by more than a third globally, China’s death penalty rate is shockingly high although the full extent of the secretive practice is unknown, it said. “Amnesty International found public news reports of at least 931 individuals executed between 2014 and 2016 (only a fraction of the total executions), but only 85 of them are in the state database,” it said.
“The Chinese government uses partial disclosures and unverifiable assertions to claim progress in reducing the number of executions yet at the same time maintains near absolute secrecy. This is deliberately misleading,” it said. China is a “complete outlier” in the world community when it comes to death penalty, it said.
“China executed more than all other countries in the world put together,” it said. The group said it believes China executed thousands, but it didn’t offer a more precise estimate due to a lack of accurate information. Excluding China, all other countries together executed at least 1,032 people last year, a decline of 37 percent compared to 2015. Of those, 87 percent took place in just four countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.
The US recorded 20 executions, a historic low in its use of the death penalty in 2016. Despite the significant decrease world-wide, the overall number of executions in 2016 remained higher than the average recorded for the previous decade, the Amnesty report said.
The Amnesty report on China is contrary to Chinese Supreme Court report last month which said that death sentences were being given to extremely small number of criminals in the last 10 years.
In a work report delivered to National People’s Congress, Chief Justice of China’s Supreme Court Zhou Qiang said the capital punishment had been strictly controlled and applied prudently since 2007. In 2011 China dropped the death penalty for 13 economic-related non-violent crimes including smuggling cultural relics.
Later in 2014 China had removed capital punishment for nine more crimes including smuggling weapons, ammunition, nuclear materials or counterfeit currencies. In 2015 China had banned the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners for organ transplants and ordered all hospitals stop using organs from death-row prisoners.
The ban came amid criticism over the high rate of executions to cater to the heavy demand for organs.