China is carrying out thousands of secret executions but refusing to report them, according to a
report released this week by Amnesty International.Amnesty believes China executed several thousand people last year — more than all other countries put together — but its government won’t confirm any exact numbers.
The Chinese government continues to impose death sentences for crimes that don’t warrant it under Chinese law, such as drug-trafficking or financial crimes, and after unfair trials, the report states.
Mabel Au, director of the Hong Kong branch of Amnesty International, told Radio Free Asia that China stopped publicizing its execution numbers in 2008 or 2009, and that the group put together its tally by scouring official media reports and adding up the figures.
She added that China also harvests organs for transplant from executed prisoners, but is working to stop the practice.
And China holds the world record for the number of offenses punishable under the death penalty — 55. Lawyer Sui Muqing told RFA the government could begin phasing out the death penalty by reducing the the number of capital offenses.
However, the Chinese people oppose abolishing the death penalty because they see it as a way to punish corrupt officials, Muqing says.
Officially, China’s Supreme People’s Court claims the number of executions has dropped by half since the court resumed reviewing death sentences in 2006. But most trials in China are closed to to the public, making it difficult for the media or human rights groups to investigate.
Worldwide there were at least 682 executions last year, the group reports, and the top five countries were China, Iran (314), Iraq (129), Saudi Arabia (79), and the U.S. (43). Executions in Iraq have nearly doubled from 2011, when there were only 68 people put to death.
However, except for the U.S., most of these countries are under-reporting executions, according to Amnesty.
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