EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 17/24/95
EXTRA 41/95 Death Penalty 20 April 1995
OF CHINA Hu Baokui
On 6 April 1995, Hu Baokui was sentenced to death by the Shanghai Province Municipal
Intermediate People's Court for the alleged murder of a young woman, according
to the newspaper, Xinmin Wanbao. The newspaper states that Hu Baokui murdered
the young woman after she had refused to "conspire with him in criminal activities".
It is not known whether Hu Baokui has appealed against his death sentence. Under
Chinese law, defendants have between three and 10 days after the passing of sentence
to appeal to another court. If no appeal was lodged, his sentence will be
automatically referred for review to the Shanghai Province High People's Court.
This court must then rule on the appeal or review the case within one and a half
months. This process can be accelerated and review of death sentences can take
place within only a few days after the trial. Successful appeals are rare.
The death penalty is used extensively in China. In 1994, Amnesty International
recorded 2496 death sentences and 1791 executions, although it believes these
figures to be well below the actual number of death sentences and executions carried
out. The increased use of the death penalty in China since the late 1980s occurs
in the context of continuing "anti-crime" campaigns.
Amnesty International is concerned that death sentences in China are meted out
following trials which fall far short of international standards for fairness.
Defendants do not always have access to lawyers. In death penalty cases, lawyers,
when available, usually have no more than one or two days to prepare a defence.
Death sentences are often decided in advance of the trial by "adjudication
committees" whose decision is seldom challenged by the courts. Chinese legal
experts have in recent years criticized the practice of pre-trial verdicts, but
it is reported to be still widespread.
Amnesty International is also concerned that the use of the death penalty in China
appears to be discriminatory; it tends to apply disproportionately to people of
low social standing who have neither the social nor the political status to defend
themselves. Furthermore, cases have been reported in which death sentences were
imposed on the basis of confessions extracted through coercion or torture.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or Chinese or in your own language:
- expressing opposition to the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate form
of cruel and inhuman punishment and as a violation of the right to life as guaranteed
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- urging that the death sentence passed on Hu Baokui be commuted.