Amnesty calls for action as China executes 8,000 people a year

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The Independent Online

Nearly 400 prisoners will be put to death across China while the world's elite athletes compete for Olympic glory in Beijing, a leading human rights organisation warns today. Amnesty International disclosed that China used capital punishment far more than any other country, executing an estimated 8,000 offenders every year. That is equivalent to 22 prisoners being killed every day, or 374 executions during the 17 days of the Beijing Olympics in August.

Amnesty called for the world community, including the International Olympics Committee (IOC), to use the games to press the Chinese government to reduce the use of capital punishment, and urged Beijing to end its secrecy over the issue.

Kate Allen, Amnesty's UK director, said: "Yet again China has executed more people than any country in the world and even now, in Olympics year, China is secretly executing people after unfair trials and alleged torture. As the world's biggest executioner, China gets the 'gold medal' for global executions."

She said world leaders should encourage China to be more open about the use of capital punishment and reduce the list of nearly 70 crimes, including tax fraud, stealing VAT receipts, selling counterfeit medicine and embezzlement, which carry the death penalty.

The Chinese admit to conducting 470 executions last year, which is more than in any other country. But two independent experts put the actual figure at around 8,000.

Amnesty's annual report on the use of the death penalty in 2007 showed that at least 3,347 people were executed in more than 50 countries.

Up to 27,500 people are now estimated to be on death row across the world.