Pubdate: 13 Dec 2011 
Source: Cape Times (South Africa)
Copyright: 2011 Cape Times


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.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.