Pubdate: Tue, 13 Dec 2011
Source: Star, The (South Africa)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers 2011


China is not alone in imposing the death sentence, but it is by far
the most enthusiastic proponent of state-sanctioned executions.

The execution yesterday of a South African woman for drug smuggling
added to a number which, while never officially revealed, is widely
believed to dwarf the rest of the world combined.

China does not publish statistics on the number of people it executes
annually, but Amnesty International estimates it to be in the thousands.

Among those executed this year was Janice Linden of Durban, put to
death yesterday after being convicted of smuggling 3kg of
methamphetamine into the country in 2008.

The human rights arguments against the death penalty are well known,
while in the case of China Amnesty also points to concerns over the
legal system used to convict and execute suspects, saying defendants
can be sentenced to death based on confessions alone "" even
confessions extracted through torture. This raises the real prospect
of innocents being executed.

If she was indeed guilty, Linden committed a serious crime for which
she deserved a stiff jail sentence. But as China becomes a growing
force in the world, it needs to rethink its death penalty policy. A
little mercy is not weakness. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.