EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 17/32/95
EXTRA 61/95 Fear of imminent execution / Ill-treatment 26 May 1995
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA Lodroe Gyatso, aged 33, Tibetan
Lodroe Gyatso, a Tibetan prisoner in Drapchi prison near Lhasa, may be facing
trial and imminent execution. According to reliable sources, he has been
accused of shouting pro-independence slogans and attempting to circulate
political literature within the prison on 4 March 1995.
Originally sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for murder in 1993, it is believed
that Lodroe Gyatso is now being interrogated by the Tibetan Administrative
Region Public Security Office. According to a reliable source, he has been
in isolation cells since the incident, and subjected to beatings. The exact
charges against him are unknown, but the sources fear he may be accused of
offences carrying the death penalty.
After the alleged protest occurred, both the prison authorities and the Labour
Reform bureau reportedly decided to recommend to the Intermediate Peoples Court
that Lodroe Gyatso be charged with a capital offence. According to Tibetan
exile sources the Intermediate People's Court has submitted to the Higher
People's Court requesting the death penalty. It is unclear if the Intermediate
People's Court is asking for confirmation or review of its decision or if the
decision has already been made. However, sources suggest that sentence has
been passed already.
Amnesty International is concerned that Lodroe Gyatso may have been given a
sentence of death for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of
expression, in violation of international human rights standards. Sources
inside Tibet have appealed to the international community to take action to
intervene in this case and stop his possible execution.
Sources say that two other Tibetan prisoners at Drapchi, also serving sentences
for murder, were executed on 17 May 1990 within hours of losing their appeal
to the Higher Court after they were claimed to have formed a pro-independence
group within the prison.
Once a sentence is passed, under Chinese law, the defendants have either three
or 10 days after the passing of sentence to appeal to another court. If no
appeal is lodged, their sentences should automatically be referred for review
to the TAR High Peoples Court. The 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 penalty cases can take place within only a few days of sentencing.
Successful appeals are rare.
The death penalty is used widely in China. For the whole of 1995 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 in China death sentences are handed
out after trials which fall far short of international standards for fairness.