PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 17/27/00
16 June 2000
EXTRA 57/00 Death penalty / Fear of execution
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (PRC) FANG YONG, 36
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