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China: Death penalty / Fear of execution: Fang Yong

, Index number: ASA 17/027/2000

On 8 June 2000, Fang Yong was sentenced to death by the Ningbo city Intermediate People's Court in Zhejiang province. Executions can take place within hours of a sentence being confirmed and any appeals rejected.

PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 17/27/00
16 June 2000
EXTRA 57/00 Death penalty / Fear of execution
On 8 June 2000, Fang Yong, 36 years old, was sentenced to death by the Ningbo
city Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang province. Executions can take
place within hours of a sentence being confirmed and any appeals rejected.
Appeals against execution are rarely successful. Execution is carried out either
with a bullet to the back of the head or by lethal injection.
Fang Yong formerly worked as an accountant with the China Bank of Communications.
He was alleged to have embezzled about 1.6 million Yuan (US $193,000) in public
funds from the bank using forged documents and by other means including computer
Fang Yong fled China in 1990 and sought refuge in Canada where he claimed asylum
as a refugee reportedly on the grounds that he had been involved in the
pro-democracy protests that took place in China in 1989 and led to the violent
crackdown against demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in
1989. His case was rejected by the Canadian immigration authorities and Fang
Yong then went into hiding. Fang Yong managed to remain in Canada undetected
until November 1999 when he was discovered as a result of a traffic violation.
The Canadian authorities are claiming that they did not know that Fang Yong
was facing criminal charges that could lead to the death penalty in China.
It has been reported, however, that Canadian officials stated that they believed
he could face a ten year prison sentence. In China, this was seen as the first
case of computer-related embezzlement and a warrant for Fang Yong’s arrest
was issued through Interpol. It is normal practice for abolitionist states,
like Canada, not to send people back to countries where they are likely to
face a death sentence. Amnesty International has been unable to verify
information concerning the Canadian authorities’ investigation of Fang Yong’s
claim to remain in Canada.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Canada has reportedly expressed concern
about the death sentence, although press reports cited the Canadian Minister
for Immigration, Elinor Caplan, as saying that the possibility of a death
sentence being given to an illegal immigrant after his deportation from Canada
will not deter them from deporting others even if they may face the death penalty.
She was quoted as stating that, ”there are some things that other countries
do that we don’t like”.
The death penalty continues to be used extensively, arbitrarily, and frequently
as a result of political interference. There are often mass executions during
major events or on public holidays in China, such as 1 January and the Chinese
New Year. According to news reports alone, in the week from Monday 12 June
to Friday 16 June, a total of 17 people were sentenced to death in China,
including suspended death sentences. Of these it is known that five people
have already been executed.
Based on incomplete public reports for 1998, Amnesty International recorded
at least 2,701 death sentences and at least 1,769 confirmed executions. From
1990 to the end of 1998, Amnesty International recorded more than 25,400 death
sentences and 16,600 executions. These statistics, however, are believed to
fall far short of the real figures, as only a fraction of death sentences and
executions carried out in the country are publicly reported. Even based on
this limited record, the government continues to execute many more people than
the rest of the world put together. Execution is by shooting or lethal injection.
A revision to the Criminal Code in March 1997 confirmed the increasing scope
for the use of the death penalty.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English, Chinese or your own language:
- urging the Chinese authorities to commute the death sentence on Fang Yong;
- urging that the arbitrary and massive use of the death penalty in China be
- urging the Chinese government to exclude non violent crimes, such as
corruption, from the death penalty, as recommended by the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;
- 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;
- expressing dismay to the Canadian authorities at their actions in sending
Fang Yong back to China to face the death penalty;
- reiterating to the Canadian authorities the importance of fully investigating
all refugee claims and all deportation cases for evidence that the immigrant
would be tortured or face severe human rights violations including the death
APPEALS TO: please note that faxes in China are unreliable and often do not
work outside office hours (GMT + 8):
Premier of the People's Republic of China
ZHU Rongji Zongli
9 Xihuangchenggenbeijie
Beijingshi 100032
People's Republic of China
Telexes: 210070 FMPRC CN or 22478 MFERT CN
Telegram: Premier Zhu Rongji, Beijing, China
Faxes: + 8610 6 520 5316/467 7046 (c/o Ministry of Justice)
+ 86 10 6 851 2174 (c/o Ministry of Radio, Film, TV)
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Justice of Canada
The Honourable Anne McLellan P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
General Inquiries
Faxes: Communications and Executive Services Branch
+ 00 1 (613) 954-0811
Xinhua News Agency
Faxes:+ 8610 62019332/3071210
E-Mail: xinhua@cb.col.com.cn
China Daily
E-mail:(try) www.chinadaily.com.cn
People’s Daily
Fax: + 86 10 6 5092893
E-Mail: info@peopledaily.com.cn
The Canadian Press
Gerry Arnold, Executive Editor
Fax: 00 1 416-507-2070
Email: garnold@cp.org
Human Rights (Society) of China
Fax: + 86 10 6 491 2961
and to diplomatic representatives of the People's Republic of China
and Canada accredited to your country.

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