EU-China Relations and the Death Penalty

With the EU’s political and trade relationship with China being actively discussed, Amnesty International today releases its latest report on the use of the death penalty in China and calls on EU foreign ministers meeting today to actively consider the report, which calls for an immediate moratorium on executions in China.

Executed according to Law The death penalty in China“is available, see links at end of page.

The report details how the Chinese government routinely abuses national laws and international standards in the course of executing thousands of people each year. Amnesty International says the rights of individuals facing the death penalty are violated at every stage of proceedings, including confessions obtained under torture being used as evidence against them (see individual cases below).

The report comes a week after a senior Chinese legislator suggested China executes 10,000 people a year. This is higher than the number of judicial executions recorded for the rest of the world combined. As well as promoting lethal injections as a method of execution, mobile execution chambers (converted buses) are being extensively used throughout China in which prisoners can be executed immediately after a sentence is passed.

“We are releasing this report today to coincide with the meeting of EU foreign ministers in the hope that they will take the issues raised into account when recommending how the EU’s future relationship with China should be handled,” Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office, said.

“As in previous years, its human rights dialogue with China is an excuse for the EU not to put forward a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva criticizing China’s human rights record. It is also likely that today’s meeting of foreign ministers will release conclusions on China that will be far less detailed than those of previous years.”

“However, the EU has always stressed that dialogues should produce concrete results and assured that the dialogue with China would not prevent public scrutiny of human rights issues. Given today’s Amnesty International report and the general picture of persistent gross abuse across a broad spectrum of human rights in China, these assurances seem very thin,” Dick Oosting said.

Amnesty International therefore calls on EU foreign ministers to recommend the active promotion of a moratorium on the death penalty in China and to live up to the EU’s own guidelines both on the death penalty and human rights dialogues by promoting a resolution at the UN Commission on Human Rights calling for such a moratorium.

Amnesty International’s report demonstrates the failures in China’s criminal justice system by using cases researched by Amnesty International, and cases gathered from China’s official media.

Amnesty International’s report demonstrates the failures in China’s criminal justice system by using cases researched by Amnesty International, and cases gathered from China’s official media.

These include:

  • Chen Guoqing and three co-defendants accused of murder in 1996. They have now been re-tried and re-sentenced to death four times. They have so far successfully appealed three times, because the appeal court recognised the evidence against them was non-existent, scant, or based upon confessions extorted through torture. They remain in prison awaiting a final verdict.
  • Zhao Fenrong, a woman also accused of murder in 1998 and sentenced to death at her trial and two re-trials, also on the basis of non-existent or scant evidence, and upon a confession extorted through torture. She is currently in prison on a suspended death sentence possibly awaiting a further appeal.
  • Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist cleric who was given a suspended death sentence following a blatantly unfair trial and a summary appeal procedure which saw his co-defendant Lobsang Dhundup executed on the day the sentence was passed.
  • Gong Shengliang, a Christian pastor who was also subjected to a blatantly unfair trial and sentenced to death, only to have his sentence reduced to life on appeal. He remains in prison, and there are serious concerns for his health following allegations of repeated and sustained beatings in prison.

Report – Executed “according to law” The death penalty in China:
Cover page 
More information, links to related documents

For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499
Fax: 32-2-5025686
Email: [email protected]