Pubdate: 13 Dec 2011 Source: Cape Times (South Africa) Contact: Copyright: 2011 Cape Times Website: http://www.capetimes.co.za/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2938 DEATH PENALTY THE execution yesterday in China of a South African for drug smuggling brings the horror of the death penalty close to home. Janice Linden of Durban was put to death after being convicted of smuggling 3kg of methamphetamine into the country in 2008. China is not alone in the world in imposing the death sentence, but it is by far the most enthusiastic proponent of state-sanctioned executions. China does not publish statistics on the number of people executed annually, but Amnesty International estimates it to be in the thousands, though earlier this year the number of crimes carrying the death penalty in China was reduced by 13 to 55. The number of executions every year is widely believed to dwarf those in all other countries combined. Amnesty International has repeatedly appealed to China to abolish the death penalty, arguing that no one sentenced to death receives a fair trial in China. Defendants can be sentenced to death based on confessions alone, even confessions extracted through torture. This multiplies the risk that the victim may be innocent of the crime. Apart from China, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore are some of the countries which execute people for drug offences, while the death penalty for other crimes is still applied in many other countries, including the United States. But Amnesty International has repeatedly pointed out that there is no evidence that the death penalty is a stronger deterrent against drug offences, or for that matter, against violent crime, than long terms of imprisonment. “Evidence from around the world has shown that the death penalty has no unique deterrent effect on crime. Many people have argued that abolishing the death penalty leads to higher crime rates, but studies in the USA and Canada, for instance, do not back this up.” In conclusion, Amnesty International warns: “Far from making society safer, the death penalty has been shown to have a brutalising effect on society. State-sanctioned killing only serves to endorse the use of force and to continue the cycle of violence.” Whether or not she was guilty, Janice Linden did not deserve this. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.