Amnesty International Challenges China’s Continued Secrecy in Death Penalty Executions

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302,
Laura Spann: lspann@aiusa.org

 

Amnesty International Challenges China’s Continued Secrecy in Death Penalty Executions

Texas is first in executions in the U.S.; 7th in the world

WASHINGTON - In a new report, Death
Sentences and Executions in 2009,
released today Amnesty
International
challenged the Chinese authorities to reveal how many people they
execute
and sentence to death annually.

The new report reveals that 714 people
were
executed in 18 countries, and 2001 people were sentenced to death in 56
countries in 2009. However, it does not include the thousands of
executions
that were likely to have taken place in China, where information on the
death penalty remains a state secret.

In a challenge to China's lack of
transparency,
Amnesty International has decided not to publish its own minimum figures
for Chinese executions and death sentences in 2009. Estimates based on
the publicly available information grossly under-represent the actual
number
the state killed or sentenced to death.

"The death penalty is cruel and
degrading,
and an affront to human dignity," said Claudio Cordone, Amnesty
International's
Interim Secretary General. "The Chinese authorities claim that fewer
executions
are taking place. If this is true, why won't they tell the world how
many
people the state put to death?"

Amnesty International's research shows
that
nations that still carry out executions are the exception rather than
the
rule. In addition to China, the worst offending nations were Iran with
at least 388 executions, Iraq with at least 120, Saudi Arabia with at
least
69 and the United States with 52.

In the United States, Texas with 24
executions
is the worst offender.  It actually ranks 7th in the world
trailing only the rest of the United States, and the governments of
Yemen,
Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and China. Texas has already executed four men
in 2010, and another, Franklin Alix, is scheduled to be put to death on
the evening of March 30.

The past year saw capital punishment
applied
extensively to send political messages, to silence opponents or to
promote
political agendas in China, Iran and Sudan, according to Amnesty
International's
report.

In Iran, 112 executions were known to
have
taken place in the eight-week period between the presidential election
on June 12 and the inauguration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term
as President on
August 5.

The report addresses the discriminatory
way
the death penalty was applied in 2009, often after grossly unfair
trials,
and its disproportionate use against the poor, minorities and members of
racial, ethnic and religious communities.

Yet the figures also show that the world
continued to move towards abolition in 2009. The number of countries
that
have removed capital punishment entirely from their laws rose to 95 as
Burundi and Togo abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

For the first year since Amnesty
International
began keeping records, no executions took place in Europe in 2009.
 Belarus
is the only country in the region that continues to use the death
penalty.
 Across the Americas, the United States was the only country to carry
out executions.  Yet even in the USA death sentences declined to their
lowest levels since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s.

"Fewer countries than ever before are
carrying
out executions. As it did with slavery and apartheid, the world is
rejecting
this embarrassment to humanity," said Cordone. "We are moving closer
to a death penalty free world, but until that day every execution must
be opposed."  

To request an embargoed copy of Amnesty
International's
report Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, please contact the
AIUSA media office at 202-509-8194 or dcmedia2@aiusa.org.

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We are people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Our purpose is to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. We investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public, and help transform societies to create a safer, more just world.

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