Death Penalty in 2016: USA Not In the Top Five

 Amnesty International has released its annual report on capital punishment around the world.  How does the United States fare in comparison to countries like China, Iran, or Saudi Arabia?  

Death Penalty in the USA Compared to Other Nations

From their report:

For the first time since 2006, and only the second time since 1991, the USA is not among the world's five biggest executioners.

The number of executions (20) in 2016 reached the lowest level recorded in any year since 1991, half what it was in 1996, and almost five times lower than in 1999. The number of executions has fallen every year since 2009, except 2012 when it stayed the same).

For more detailed information, read the full report as a downloadable pdf here.



Amnesty International Death Penalty Report: China Secrecy Still a Problem

Amnesty International has released its latest study of the death penalty worldwide. A particular concern: China and its continued secret executions.

China's Death Penalty

We discussed the China Death Penalty (with the Death Penalty Vans) in a series of earlier posts written by Sin-Ting Mary Liu. 

See, e.g., "In Depth Look at the Law: China Death Vans and Harvesting Prisoner Organs for Profit.

Here, a video synopsis of their latest findings from Amnesty International:


Record Number of Executions Worldwide According to Amnesty International

More executions are taking place in the world today than they have in the past 25 years. 

For details, check out this week's TIME magazine story, reporting on findings released in a recent Amnesty International report.

China Is Number One in Death Penalty Executions

The country that is killing the most people via the death penalty is China.  The executions in China number in the thousands - and the government isn't releasing exact numbers. 

For more on the China Death Van horrors, read our earlier posts.  It's shocking.

 Go HERE to download the full report from Amnesty International.   Here's their video:


Do You Know About Reprive, the U.K. Organization Fighting the Death Penalty Worldwide?

Clive Stafford Smith, the Director of Reprive in Great Britain, has been corresponding with Terry about Pakistan’s death penalty and the case of Shafqat Hussain.
Reprive has been working hard to help the man who was only 14 years old when he was sentenced to death.  Reprive has been fighting to save him from execution by the Pakistani government, and recently Mr. Stafford Smith was able to report to Terry that they had got Shafqat his 4th stay of execution (in 2015 alone) within 24 hours of the scheduled execution.  At that time, the state officials said that they would have a real inquiry into Shafqat’s age at the time of sentencing.

For more on the case of Shafqat Hussain, check out Reprive’s web page with his story.

Reprive works diligently in fighting for justice in capital punishment cases around the world. 

In another story coming out of Pakistan, for example, Reprive has been championing a man who has lived the past 22 years on the Pakistani Death Row after being sentenced to death at the age of 15 years. 

Even though Aftab Bahadur’s co-defendant has given sworn testimony that Aftab was not involved in the crime for which he has been sentenced to death, and the prosecution’s eyewitness has recanted, admitting now that Aftab was not seen at the scene of the crime, Aftab’s execution remained on schedule.

Sadly, Aftab Bahadur was executed on June 10, 2015.  For more on Aftab’s story, check out his case study on the Reprive web site.

Do You Know about Reprive?

Reprive is an important organization for justice — but maybe not as well known here in the United States as it should be.  Do you know about Reprive and the work of people like its director, Clive Stafford Smith?

If not, check out Clive Stafford Smith giving a TED Talk here, explaining how he came to found Reprive — and how in all his years in representing clients facing the death penalty, Clive has never been paid one penny in legal fees for his work.  

Death Penalty Around the World: Infographic


Pakistan Death Row Executions Scheduled But 14 Year Old Gets Stay

Pakistan has over 8200 people awaiting execution on the Pakistan Death Row and not all of them are adults.  Terence Lenamon agreed to sign on as a "friend of the court" in an amicus brief that was being presented from U.S. scholars and advocates to the Pakistan government in an attempt to stop the scheduled execution of 14 year old Shafqat Hussein.
Shafqat Hussein was tried in their terrorism court for a crime that did not have anything to do with terrorism, and found guilty after a forced confession.  
He was scheduled to die on January 9, 2014, but international news reports are that his execution date has been stayed by the Pakistani Interior Minister.  
It's safe to assume that efforts like those of Terry Lenamon and others signing that amicus brief and doing other things to spotlight what is happening in Shafqat Hussein's case (among others in Pakistan) has helped to stop Friday's scheduled execution.  
Meanwhile, many more on the Pakistan Death Row are facing execution as the government lifted its 6 year six-year moratorium and began an execution schedule late last month.
The Pakistan Government has a goal to empty its Death Row -- and reports are that it plans on executing 500 people in the first three months of 2015.
Execution method:  hanging

October 10: World Day Against Mental Disorder and Death Penalty


Mental Health Problems and The Death Penalty

October 10, 2014, will be the sixth time that the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty has recognized the international problem of people suffering from mental illness being sentenced to death.

Go here to check out the schedule of events.

From the WCADP site:

On 10 October 2014, the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty is drawing attention to people with mental health problems who are at risk of a death sentence or execution.

While opposing the death penalty absolutely, abolitionists are also committed to see existing international human rights standards implemented.

Among these is the requirement that persons with mental illness or intellectual disabilities should not face the death penalty.

Amnesty International's New Video: the Death Penalty in 2012

The Extraordinary Story of Mohammad Mostafaei and His Fight to Keep Kids From Being Executed in Iran

Anthony George of the Guardian wrote Terry and asked if this video could be placed on the blog.  Here it is, honored to be asked. 

Iran Death Penalty Making WorldWide News Today: Let's Appreciate Our System of Justice, Imperfect Though It May Be

There is an amazing amount of news coverage focusing upon capital punishment today - and it's focus is Iran.  Right now, lawmakers in Iran - their legal representatives -- are actually demanding that their political opposition leaders get the death penalty.   

Why?  Because these folk organized a number of anti-government rallies which took place yesterday in various cities throughout Iran, including Tehran. 

What were the rallies about? 

Gaining support for uprisings - like Egypt's - against undemocratic government.   Specifically, the Iranian rallies yesterday were 10,000s of Iranians in the streets (Slate magazine is reporting 100,000s), protesting for the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down.   It's still happening, apparently, and fatality reports are beginning to come in (two dead so far).

Specifically, there are lawmakers in this country that are demanding that two men, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, face the death penalty in a trial for sedition.  (What's sedition? Stirring up rebellion against the government. )

And, get this:  the media is reporting that over 220 Iranian lawmakers have signed this demand and if you watch the news, you can see them yelling "Death to Mousavi! Death to Karroubi!" 

Meanwhile, under the American system of government....

Consider by comparision that another ongoing death penalty news story this week is whether or Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois will veto abolishing the death penalty in that state.  The governmental process in action, in our country. 

We're in a bad recession here, some call it a depression.  We've got threats inside and out and there are lots of things to fight about here in the United States.  True, we may have sent innocent men to their deaths before DNA testing arrived, and if we aren't careful, we still may.

But today, as the death penalty gets tossed around cavalierly in the Iranian political arena, it's a good time to set back and appreciate the system of justice we do have.  It's not perfect, but go set in any death penalty criminal trial, guilt phase or penalty phase, and it's clear that our nation does respect the finality of a death sentence, and we do appreciate mercy, in a very worthy way. 

Stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Update: Her Death Penalty Defense Attorney Is Missing, His Wife and Brother-in-Law Held

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is the woman we wrote about last week -- she faces the horrible, horrible death sentence of stoning in Iran.  Her crime?  Adultery.  Evidence?  None.  Trials? Two (no double jeopardy protection there).

Was the Stoning Carried Out?

There have been no news reports since our post to confirm that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has indeed been executed.  Last we knew, the Mullahs had reported that they were not going to respect any stays offered by other local authorities, and the stoning was said to occur within a 24 hour time frame. 

And by stoning, again we mean she will be buried in sand up to her chest and then stones - not too big and not too small - will be thrown at her until she dies.  (They don't want her to die too quickly.) 

Where is Her Lawyer?  He's Gone Missing.

We don't know if Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is alive or dead right now.  And, according to Amnesty International, we also don't know where her defense lawyer is. He's gone missing.

Mohammad Mostafaei (shown above) was reported to have been interrogated at Evin prison in Tehran, Iran, on Saturday.  Amnesty International believes he was released, asked to return, and never seen again. 

Mostafaei's Wife and Brother-in-Law Held Without a Lawyer

Meanwhile, the defense lawyer's wife, Fereshteh Halimi, and his brother-in-law, Farhad Halimi, have been taken by authorities and held without legal counsel. 

Mostafaei Is Another Death Penalty Defense Lawyer Who Blogs

Interestingly, Mr. Mostafaei blogs.  That's right.  He blogs in Iran.  And, apparently he posted something on his blog last Saturday after he left the prison interrogation, as well as updating his Facebook account.  On Facebook, he predicted he would be arrested.

Check out his blog (use Google Translate): looks like it's been shut down. 

Our prayers are with Mr. Mostafaei and his family -- and we are honored to count him as one of our brethren.  Please help spread the word of this continuing injustice.  To learn more about what you can do, visit theActivism Center at Amnesty International's website. 


China Death Vans at an End? China Announces Cut in Crimes Carrying Death Penalty

Last year, we had a series of in-depth articles posted over several weeks discussing capital punishment in China, and the horrific reality of the China Death Vans.  Please take the time to read thru this information -- information that we found was simply not covered to any great extent in the mainstream media.

China Death Vans and the Harvesting of Human Organs for the Global Transplant Black Market

Fueling the China death penalty is the demand for human transplant organs around the world.  Mobile vans literally roam the Chinese countryside, efficiently harvesting these organs from men and women grabbed off rural roadways and in village squares.  (This is documented, read our series for details.)

This week, China Announces Limiting the Crimes Carrying Death Penalty

Beijing's China Daily now reports that China will be cutting back on the number of death penalty crimes  -- and may abolish capital punishment for anyone already convicted who is over 70 years old.  A draft of the new legislation is reported to be submitted sometime in August to China's Parliament. 

Details on what crimes are being taken off the death penalty list were not found in the news release; however, it is known that 68 different crimes carry the death penalty in China right now -- and 44 of them are for non-violent acts. 

Will this really happen? What About the Human Transplant Organ Market?

Right now, the legislation is still in draft form, with no clear language and no clear date on when it will be voted upon by the National People's Congress of China. 

Based upon the information we've gathered and shared, perhaps the real question is:  how will the black market demand for human transplant organs be met if the China Death Vans are no long a major supplier? 

Let us watch and pray.

World View of the Death Penalty: Pakistan Death Penalty Charge Against Facebook founders, Writer Alan Shadrake Charged In Singapore - Not Free to Leave, Iran Stoning To Occur Today Without Evidence

World news reports regarding attitudes toward the death penalty in other countries is downright frightening.  As much as we fight against injustice in the United States, the news reports coming out of Pakistan, Iran, and Singapore today only serve to reiterate how the American system of justice is much more merciful and compassionate than so many other jurisdictions on this planet. 

Facebook Founders charged with Death Penalty Crimes in Pakistan for "Draw Muhammad Day"

At first, this seems to be something from Will Ferrell's Funny or Die series, or maybe another Ashton Punk, or even some twisted publicity attempt for that new Facebook movie.  No.  The ugly truth is that a Pakistani High Court judge has indeed brought in the police after an a Pakistani attorney named Muhammad Azhar Siddique filed documentation with the court requesting a "First Information Report (FIR)," legalese for asking that that a criminal investigation be ordered.

In his application, Mr. Siddique allegedly asserts that Facebook principals have violated Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which states:

"Use of derogatory remark etc, in respect of the Holy Prophet, whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable for fine."

What's the brouhaha?  Back in May, Facebook sponsored "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day," when a  27-year-old Canadian woman created a Facebook page joining a Seattle cartoonist in an online protest of cable TV's Comedy Central's decision to censor an episode of "South Park," where the Prophet Muhammad was drawn wearing a bear costume. 

After the Royal Canadian Mounted Police visited the Canadian Facebook page administrator's home, telling her of possible reprisals and death threats against her, she took their advice and removed the page.  The FBI, likewise, visited the Seattle cartoonist, giving similar advice to her -- and she likewise took down her online protest and has taken herself out of the public eye.  The names of both the Seattle cartoonist and the Canadian Facebook page administrator appear on hit lists. 

But this must not be enough, to put names on assassination lists. 

There are reports that Pakistan's Deputy Attorney General has begun an investigation into Facebook Founders Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, and Dustin Moskovitz, as well as the German woman who initiated the "Draw Muhammad" contest under a pseudonym.  Attorney Sidiqque has told media that he expects the Pakistani officials to enlist the aid of Interpol in coordinating the arrest of these four individuals.  Additionally, Pakistan’s United Nations representative has purportedly asked to escalate the issue in the UN General Assembly. 

Singapore Writer Arrest and Iran Stoning after the jump....  

Continue Reading...

Linda Carty Will Be the First British Woman to be Executed Since 1955 - Set to Die Not in England, but in Texas

This Monday, the United States Supreme Court declined review of Linda Carty's case -- which means that the State of Texas will be placing her name on its Death Row Execution List sometime this summer.  The High Court's decision not to hear Ms. Carty's arguments is getting worldwide attention because Linda Carty is not an American citizen. 

British Twist to the Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claim Goes Unheard by the High Court

Linda Carty is British, born on the Caribbean island of St. Kitt's -- and that foreign connection is part of her argument.  The British government was urging review of her case because England was denied the opportunity to provide Linda Carty assistance at the trial stage.  Apparently, Ms. Carty was never told of her right to call the British Consulate when she was first facing charges and she was not aware that her home country - the United Kingdom - would be able to help her.

According to the British Consul General (based in Houston), if the British Government had been notified, they would have come to Linda Carty's aid and among other things, she would have had better legal representation at trial than her indigent defense counsel (and, of course, presumably more funds to expend on a defense). 

What Happens Now to Linda Carty?

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals already heard, and denied, her appeal based upon ineffective assistance of counsel (this was the decision that was being taken up to the U.S. Supreme Court for review).   Unless the Governor of the State of Texas intervenes, Linda Carty will be executed by the State of Texas -- and as melodramatic as it sounds, this may means something akin to the Queen of England  telephoning Governor Perry in a bid for mercy upon this foreign national. 

China Death Penalty - New Guidelines But What About Human Organ Harvesting?

The death vans that cruise around China, killing people for all sorts of crimes and then harvesting their organs for sale on the human organ black market, was so shocking to us when intern Sin-Ting Mary Liu described the efforts, that we posted a long series here, excerpts from her excellent work - complete with the footnotes -- giving all the details on what was going on over there.

Here are the links:

In Depth Look at the Law: China's Death Penalty - 1: The Death Vans and Black Market Organ Trade

In Depth Look at the Law: China's Death Penalty -2: Truly Inhumane Killings Are Happening in China Under the Guise of Capital Punishment

In Depth Look at the Law: China's Death Penalty - 3: Who are the Falun Gong? Why are they targeted for execution and organ harvesting?

Found: One Recent In-depth Article on the China Death Vans. Who's Covering the Story? Tibet. And They've Researched Death Vans Back to the Nazis.

In Depth Look at the Law: China Death Vans and Harvesting Prisoner Organs for Profit

In Depth Look at the Law: China Death Vans and China's Widespread Corruption - There is No Fairness in China's Criminal Justice System

In Depth Look at the Law: Secrecy in China - Successfully Hiding the Truth About Executions for Profit from the World

Suddenly, News that China's High Court is Setting Death Penalty Guidelines

Now, there's news that China's high court has called for mercy in death penalty cases -- in fact, the Supreme People's Court has issued guidelines for lower courts to follow.  They include instructions that the death penalty should be reserved for cases with "valid and ample evidence" of the particular crime committed. And only crimes that are "extremely serious" should warrant the penalty of death. Minors and elders should not be executed. 

Here's Our Question: What's Been Done About the Human Organ Harvesting?

We welcome the news that China's highest judicial body is implementing guidelines for capital punishment and that MERCY is being recognized. However, the hidden agenda in all the Chinese executions didn't appear to be the legal boundaries set by Chinese law so much as the tremendous amount of PROFIT that was available in the sale of human organs for transplant in the black market.

What's being done about that horror?  And, without cutting the head off that snake, aren't the sinister death vans just going to impose whatever crimes are within the guidelines to get the product that they've found so lucrative to sell worldwide?


November 30 is World Day of Cities for Life - is Your City Participating?

On Monday, over 1000 cities around the world will participate in "World Day of Cities for Life," which honors the first time that the death penalty was abolished by a government -- on November 30, 1786, by the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.  Organized by the Catholic Community of Sant'Egidio of Rome, participation is growing steadily: in 2005, only 300 cities worldwide were participants and now, four years later, the total exceeds 1150. 

Cities for Life Day involves each community flooding lights upon a local monument that in some way symbolizes the effort to abolish the death penalty.  For example, in Rome the Colosseum is illuminated; in Barcelona they are lighting up the Cathedral Square. 

Continue Reading...

Found: One Recent In-depth Article on the China Death Vans. Who's Covering the Story? Tibet. And They've Researched Death Vans Back to the Nazis.

Tomorrow, our series on the China Death Penalty Vans continues.  This horror is happening right now, and it's amazing how this story is not being covered by the media.  No one knows about this!!! 

Searching this week for news stories on China's growing industry in human organs with death penalty vans driving the villages for product, this piece appeared which gives gory details and even includes a photo of a condemned man entering one of the Death Vans. 

Problem is, the newstory comes from Tibet.  That's right, little Tibet.  Not Japan, or the US, Canada, Australia, England, France, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, India, ... you get the idea.

Entitled "China's hi-tech 'death van' where criminals are executed and then their organs are sold on black market," and published by TibetCustom, this article gives some very good information including:

1.  China isn't the first to think of Death Vans.  Nope.  The NAZIS were using them back in WWII, killing people in sealed trucks with carbon dioxide they piped in from the exhaust (and yes, TibetCustom provides a photo of a Nazi Death Van).

2. The China Death Vans are designed and manufactured by Jinguan Auto, a Chinese auto maker.  Jinguan Auto charges the Chinese government £60,000 for each vehicle.  They can go as fast as 80mph and they are intentionally designed to look like an ordinary police vehicle out on the roads. 

3.  The vans are supposed to have video cameras inside, so that each execution is videotaped.  Purportedly, this is to make sure that the death isn't cruel or inhumane.  Yeah, sure.

4.  Undercover investigations are showing that not only the government, but the police and the doctors are making lots of money from these Death Vans.

5.   "Organ Tourism" is a booming business in the Chinese border cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.  Weathy people from all over the world come to China, where they can get a kidney transplant for as little as $10,000.00.   (According to the University of Maryland, in 2009 the cost of a kidney transplant (with the follow up med care for the first year after the surgery) was close to $100,000.00 here in the U.S. )

In Depth Look at the Law: China's Death Penalty - 3: Who are the Falun Gong? Why are they targeted for execution and organ harvesting?

This is third part of our new Friday Legal Memo Series - In Depth Look at the Law, where we're focusing on an international horror that is not getting enough attention. In China, people are being executed inside mobile death vans, vehicles that drive from village to village. First, the victim is killed inside the van. Thereafter, his organs are taken from him almost immediately so they can be sold for a profit. All this, while grieving loved ones may well be just outside the vehicle. This is real. Take notice. Spread the word.

Practitioners of Falen Gong have been targeted for execution and organ harvesting by China. Why?

Falun Gong was founded in 1992 by Li Honghzi in northeastern China. [46] Falun Gong followers practice meditative, slow-motion exercises and adhere to the movement's guiding principles of truthfulness, benevolence, and forbearance taken from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.[47]

The Chinese government touts protection of certain religious activities, which include Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. [48]However, all other religious groups, sects, and denominations are illegal and subject to suppression by the Chinese government.[49]

In April 1999, over ten thousand Falun Gong members gathered in Tiananmen Square to peacefully protest the persecution of their practices.[50]

On April 25, 1999, fifteen thousand members of Falun Gong gathered outside of the government's central headquarters in Beijing and demanded official recognition.[51] Following the April 1999 protests, the Chinese government began a campaign to eradicate the Falun Gong. [52]Leaders of the movement were detained, the organization was outlawed, and a massive media campaign was launched aimed at discrediting the organization.[53]

On July 22, 1999, the People's Republic of China's Ministry of Civil Affairs decreed the Falun Gong an illegal organization.[54]

Following the outlaw of Falun Gong, the international news media and academic groups began producing and disseminating documentation of the group's rapid dismantling. [55] In October 2000, the Chinese government increased efforts to destroy the Falun Gong by pronouncing the group as a "reactionary and hostile" organization.[56]

As a result, detention and re-education efforts were increased. [57] The Chinese government undertook a three-pronged approach to quash the Falun Gong movement: 1) re-education of members; 2) violent treatment of members; and 3) distribution of anti-Falun Gong propaganda.[58]

Eight hundred thirty thousand Falun Gong followers had been arrested by the conclusion of April 2001. [59] However, it was reported in April 2006 that each year, more than twice as many Chinese nationals join Falun Gong than the Communist Party, much to the Chinese government's fear and dismay.[60]

In 2001, the Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, stated, "Religion must never be allowed when it opposes the direction of the Party of the socialist system, or destroys national reunification or ethnic identity." [61]

In late 2001, China declared the use of the Internet to organize or coordinate the activities of "evil cults" a criminal offense. [62] In the years following, thousands of Falun Gong followers were detained and charged with violating the anti-cult laws.[63]

President Jiang Zemin actually created the 6-10 office, a special branch of the Chinese government designed specifically to eliminate the Falun Gong movement. [64] The 6-10 office sent thousands of Falun Gong practitioners to prisons and labor camps.[65]

Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to torture, capricious detention, and re-education to include confinement, forced labor, and psychological treatments. [66] One research group identified over three thousand Falun Gong practitioners who have lost their lives as a result of persecution by the Chinese government.[67]

Organ harvesting of Falun Gong prisoners may have begun a decade ago

Researchers linked the large surge in organ transplants performed in China to the persecution and imprisonment of Falun Gong members in 1999. [68] In many prisons and labor camps, Falun Gong practitioners have been singled out from non-practitioners for blood tests and organ examinations.[69]

Although those practitioners were given medical screenings, presumably to determine compatibility for organ transplants, many diagnosed with illnesses were not provided with any medical treatments.[70]

One study found that Falun Gong practitioners who die in captivity would officially be categorized as suicide by the Chinese government, and their bodies would be immediately cremated. [71] Furthermore, it has been reported that a large number of these deaths were carried out specifically to gather organs for transplants.[72]

Many family members of executed Falun Gong practitioners have reported seeing corpses with surgical incisions and missing body parts. [73] Moreover, the government gave no explanation as to why the corpses were mutilated.[74]

Many Falun Gong practitioners whose organs were harvested following their execution were never identified by their families because these practitioners refused to identify themselves to the authorities when they were captured. [75]Therefore, it is easy to conclude that these unidentified practitioners were the easiest and safest targets for clandestine organ harvesting.

These findings parallel international human rights groups that have widely reported that executions in China are often performed in conjunction with specific transplant requirements, i.e., shooting a prisoner in the head when kidneys are needed or shooting a prisoner in the chest when corneas are needed.[76]

[46]Christopher Chaney, The Despotic State Department in Refugee Law: Creating Legal Fictions to Support Falun Gong Asylum Claims, 6 (No. 1) Asian-Pac. L. & Pol'y J. 130, 142 (Winter 2005).

[47]Leavy, supra note 50, at 756-57.

[48] 48Id. at 757-59.

[49]Chaney, supra note 51, at 142.

[50]Id. at 131.

[51] Leavy, supra note 50, at 761.

[52] Id.

[53]Matas & Kilgour, supra note 46, at 9.

[54]Id. at 10.

[55]Joseph Watson & Alex Jones, Falun Gong Demonstrator Speaks Out on Chinese Government's Ghoulish Organ Harvesting, Prison, Apr. 25, 2006, ¶¶ 13-14, (last visited July 29, 2008).

[56] Edelman & Richardson, supra note 48, at 254.



[59]Matas & Kilgour, supra note 46, at 10.

[60]Id. at 11.

[61]Leavy, supra note 50, at 756.

[62]David Matas & David Kilgour, Bloody Harvest Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, OrganHarvestInvestigation.Net, Jan. 31, 2007, at 34 [hereinafter Bloody], available at (last visited July 29, 2008). Matas and Kilgour continued their research after publishing their first report and published this updated report with additional findings.

[63] Kirk C. Allison, Ph.D., M.S., Assoc. Dir., Univ. of Minn., Program in Human Rights and Health, Address at the University of Hawaii at Manoa: Transplantation and Human Rights in China, slide 89 (Oct. 29, 2007), available at (last visited July 29, 2008).

[64]Bloody, supra note 67, at 38.

[65]Allison, supra note 68, slide 70.

[66] Matas & Kilgour, supra note 46, at 9.

[67]Fear of Torture or Ill-Treatment/Prisoner of Conscience, Amnesty Int'l (ASA 17/049/2006), Aug. 29, 2006, at 1, available at (last visited July 29, 2008).

[68]Bloody, supra note 67, at 45.


[70]Id. at 35.

[71]Hemphill, supra note 29, at 439-40.

Next Friday: Prisoners as another source for China's organ harvesting business

In Depth Look at the Law: China's Death Penalty -2: Truly Inhumane Killings Are Happening in China Under the Guise of Capital Punishment

This is second part of our new Friday Legal Memo Series - In Depth Look at the Law, where we're focusing on an international horror that is not getting enough attention. In China, people are being executed inside mobile death vans, vehicles that drive from village to village. First, the victim is killed inside the van. Thereafter, his organs are taken from him almost immediately so they can be sold for a profit. All this, while grieving loved ones may well be just outside the vehicle. This is real. Take notice. Spread the word.

How does China officially respond when confronted with these horrors? China doesn't deny the death vans exist. Instead, China claims that the death vans are more humane.

Executions in China are performed by either lethal injection or firing squad. [20] China approved the use of lethal injection in 1997. [21] Although the Chinese government is claiming that lethal injection is a more humane form of execution, there have been reports that the executioners have lowered the dosage amounts to cut costs, which results in a lingering, more agonizing and painful death. [22]

China Prefers Lethal Injection Over the Firing Squad - But Not Because it is a More Humane Manner of Death.

Despite these allegations, the Chinese media and government officials continue to tout that lethal injection is a civilized method for administering the death penalty. [23] The Chinese media often justify the use of lethal injection by citing the use of lethal injection in the United States. [24] The death van designer also claims that switching from gunshots to lethal injections show that China is now promoting human rights. [25]

Critics, however, state that the death vans allow China to carry out executions more quickly and easily. [26] Realistically, the government is not seeking a more enlightened vision of capital punishment but rather a more efficient way to execute a larger number of people. [27] In addition, the vans keep the executions out of the public eye.[28]

Death Vans Are a Profit Machine: They are Used for Organ Transplantation and Lethal Injection is Better for a Fast Harvest

It has been reported that the Chinese government uses mobile execution units to harvest organs from prisoners condemned to death. [29] Human rights activists and death penalty opponents fear that China is using lethal injection more frequently to harvest the organs of executed prisoners to supply China's growing market for organ transplants. [30] Amnesty International is also concerned with China using lethal injection for the purposes of facilitating organ transplants from executed prisoners.[31]

These Silent, Mobile Death Vans are Viewed as Helping the Black Market Human Organ Market to Florish and Grow

The Executive Director of Human Rights in China states that the mobile execution vans help facilitate the black-market trade in organ sales because independent monitoring organizations, like the Red Cross, are denied access to prisons or labor camps. [32] With the secrecy already surrounding executions and organ harvesting in China, the death vans only aid in the business of black-market organ transplants. [33] Critics positively see a link between the silently rolling death vans and the organ trade.[34]

Amnesty International Reports on How Lethal Injection is Preferable in Human Organ Harvesting

According to Amnesty International, the chemicals used for lethal injection, which have neurological and neuromuscular effect, can be flushed through the kidneys without causing permanent damage. [35] The chief concern with damaging organs during execution is depriving the organs of oxygen or harming them physically through trauma. [36] Lethal injection allows the executioner to avoid both of these risks. [37] Although the drugs used for lethal injection in China is not publicly known, even the poisonous mix used in the United States would not damage the vital organs desired for transplants. [38]

With a shot of the anticoagulant, Heparin, beforehand, even a heart could be transplanted if removed quickly. [39] By leaving the body whole via lethal injection, organs can be extracted more quickly and effectively compared to execution by gunshot.[40]

Chinese Doctors Harvesting Human Organs With Grieving Family Members Just Outside the Van

Prior to the death vans, doctors had to hurriedly perform the organ extraction directly at the execution site before they were detected by the common people. [41] During one particular organ extraction inside an ambulance at the execution site, the doctors could hear people outside of the ambulance. [42] Because the doctors feared that those people might have been the prisoner's family, they left the job half finished. [43] The corpse was then hastily thrown in a plastic bag and left on the flatbed of the crematorium truck. [44] As the ambulance drove away, the people outside pelted the vehicle with stones. [45] Therefore, the windowless death vans would provide a much safer venue for the doctors and police officers performing the executions and organ extractions.

[20] Executed, supra note 5, at 44.

[21]Id. at 48.

[22] Charleton, supra note 3, ¶ 5.

[23] Executed, supra note 5, at 48.

[24]Id. at 50.

[25] MacLeod, supra note 12, ¶ 4.

[26] Antoaneta Bezlova, Death Penalty-China: Rapid Death by Roaming, Inter Press Service News Agency (Italy), July 19, 2006, ¶ 2, (last visited July 29, 2008).

[27] Charleton, supra note 3, ¶ 6.

[28] Bezlova, supra note 26, ¶ 2.

[29] Joan E. Hemphill, Comment: China's Practice of Procuring Organs from Executed Prisoners: Human Rights Groups Must Narrowly Taylor Their Criticism and Endorse the Chinese Constitution to End Abuses, 16 Pac. Rim L. & Pol'y 431, 440 (Mar. 2007).

[30] Bezlova, supra note 26, ¶ 16.

[31] People's Republic of China the Olympics Countdown-Failing to Keep Human Rights Promises, Amnesty Int'l (ASA 17/046/2006), Sept. 2006, at 2 [hereinafter Failing], available at (last visited July 29, 2008).

[32] Bezlova, supra note 26, ¶¶ 20-21.

[33] Id. ¶¶ 20-22.

[34] Id. ¶ 16; MacLeod, supra note 12, ¶ 7.

[35] Carers, supra note 14, at 16.

[36] Id.

[37] Id.

[38] Craig S. Smith, In Shift, Chinese Carry Out Executions by Lethal Injection, The N.Y. Times, Dec. 28, 2001, ¶ 11, available at (last visited July 28, 2008).

[39] Id.

[40]MacLeod, supra note 12, ¶ 8.

[41] See Organs, supra note 4, at 59 (statement of Wang Guoqi, former doctor, Chinese PLA Hospital).

[42] Id.

[43] Id.

[44] Id.

[45] Id.
Next Friday: Who are the Falun Gong and How are they involved?

Great Book to Read Especially If It's For Free, Online - The Death Penalty: A WorldWide Perspective

Roger Hood's The Death Penalty: a WorldWide Perspective is a great book.  This is true, even if it may be in need of a revised edition, given that this version was published in 2003. 

And, if you sign up for a free trial at, you can read his book for free ... this is a great thing.  Here's's description of Hood's work:

This is the completely revised and updated third edition of Roger Hood's classic study on the death penalty. In it he surveys and analyses the status of the death penalty as a punishment worldwide, taking into account the changes that have taken place during the six years since the last edition was published. This new edition is especially valuable at a time when more and more countries are joining the movement to abolish the death penalty worldwide.

It Can Happen Overnight: Japan Suspends the Death Penalty

Remembering back to a couple of months ago, we posted about three executions taking place in Japan, in just one week. 

Well, here's how fast things can change:  Japan has effectively nixed capital punishment today.  How?  By the appointment of Keiko Chiba as the country's new Justice Minister.  A lifelong opponent of the death penalty, it's highly unlikely that Minister Chiba will sign the necessary execution order for any Japanese inmate to be executed in Japan. 

No signed order, no hanging.

In Depth Look at the Law: China's Death Penalty - 1: The Death Vans and Black Market Organ Trade

The death van silently rolls into town collecting and executing condemned inmates. Falun Gong practitioners suddenly disappear or die unexplained deaths.

Both actions derive from the Chinese government's corruption and greed.

Substantial evidence demonstrates that China is grossly profiting from the black-market organ trade by using condemned prisoners and Falun Gong captives to supply much needed organs to high-paying customers.

Seeking to avoid backlash from the international community, especially in this highly publicized time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has deceptively utilized the more inconspicuous death vans and Falun Gong captives to continue its illegal organ extraction and transplantation activities.

The death penalty has been employed in China since the dawn of recorded history.[1]

Scholars date the first recorded public execution in China as early as 2601 B.C. [2] According to Epoch Times, there are 320 offenses that are currently punishable by death in China.[3]

Many of those executed in China are not even considered criminals by internationally accepted standards. [4] In fact, sixty-nine percent of the capital crimes covered by the Chinese criminal code are not violent in nature.[5]

For example, capital crimes include engaging in tax fraud, producing counterfeit currency, embezzling state property, demanding or accepting bribes, smuggling contraband across China's borders, pimping, and killing panda bears. [6] In addition, some capital crimes are vague, which include funding or committing terrorist crimes, belonging to a terrorist organization, and producing, trading, and storing toxic chemicals without authorization.[7]

Defendants sentenced to death are often executed within minutes or hours after the failure of their appeal.[8]

Instead of providing any thought to the comfort of prisoners condemned to death, the emphasis is placed on exhibiting the Chinese government's swift and firm hand of justice. [9] One research foundation estimated that 7,500-8,000 Chinese people were executed in 2006 alone. [10]

Death vans

In March 2003, the Chinese official press reported that the Yunnan Province purchased eighteen mobile execution units or "death vans." [11] The death vans shuttle from town to town doling out capital punishment.[12]

These mobile execution units were buses that were bought and converted for 500,000 Yuan each.[13] The vans are windowless, converted twenty-four seat buses that contain a metal bed where the prisoner is strapped down in preparation for execution. [14] The van is also equipped with a video monitor next to the driver's seat. [15] Once the procedure begins, the doctor inserts the needle, and the police officer presses a button to release the lethal cocktail into the prisoner's veins.[16]

The Supreme People's Court has urged all the courts throughout China to purchase these death vans to facilitate efficient executions.[17]

The death vans are more cost-effective, especially for small rural areas, to carry out local executions. [18] Otherwise, these small regions would need to build execution facilities or send their inmates to Beijing to be executed.[19]

Next week: More on the Death Vans and their use for organ transplantation; the methods of execution in China, and more....

[1]. Kelly M. Brown, Comment: Execution for Profit? A Constitutional Analysis of China's Practice of Harvesting Executed Prisoner' Organs, 6 Seton Hall Const. L.J. 1029, 1062 (Summer 1996).

[2]. Id.

[3]. Dennis Charleton, Mobile Death Vans - Good for Human Rights?, The Epoch Times, July 2, 2006, ¶ 4, available at (last visited Jul. 28, 2008).

[4]. Organs for Sale: China's Growing Trade and Ultimate Violation of Prisoners' Rights: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Int'l. Ops. and Human Rights of the Comm. on Int'l. Relations, 107th Cong. 8 (2001) [hereinafter Organs] (statement of Cal. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Member, Comm. on Int'l. Relations).

[5]. People's Republic of China: Executed "According to Law"?-the Death Penalty in China, Amnesty Int'l (ASA 17/003/2004) Mar. 22, 2004, at 9 [hereinafter Executed], available at (last visited Jul. 28, 2008).

[6]. Id.

[7]. Id. at 10.

[8]. Id. at 44.

[9]. Id. at 45

[10]. People's Republic of China the Olympics Countdown: Repression of Activists Overshadows Death Penalty and Media Reforms, Amnesty Int'l (ASA 17/015/2007), Apr. 2007, at 8 [hereinafter Repression], available at (last visited July 28, 2008).

[11]. Executed, supra note 5, at 2.

[12]. Calum MacLeod, China Makes Ultimate Punishment Mobile, USA Today, June 15, 2006, ¶ 3, available at (last visited July 28, 2008).

[13]. Executed, supra note 5, at 2. 500, 000 Yuan equals $60,000 USD.

[14]. Stop Carers Killing, Amnesty Int'l (ACT 50/009/2007), Sept. 27, 2007, at 3 [hereinafter Carers], available at (last visited July 28, 2008).

[15]. Id.

[16]. Id.

[17]. Id.

[18]. MacLeod, supra note 12, ¶ 14.

[19]. Id. ¶¶ 14, 20.

The Death Penalty in Japan - Three Executions This Week

Here in the United States, it depends upon which state you're considering -- some states have the death penalty, some do not. Some are zealous in executing those on Death Row (think Texas), others have inmates living on Death Row for years and years (think Oregon).

However, in Japan, things are different. Japan has the death penalty for treason and murder (usually, multiple murders with aggravating factors). There's only one method of execution: hanging. And the execution is performed within a prison facility, in an execution-designed room.

The Japanese inmate is told that he is going to die on the date of the execution. No advance notice. He or she does get a last meal of their choosing. No one is invited to watch the hanging, and the inmate's family (as well as his lawyers) are told of the death after the execution has taken place.

The Japanese Death Row is different than the United States, too. All Death Row inmates live in solitary confinement. Two exercise periods per week are given with no exercise allowed in the cells, and they can have only three books. No TV. Visits are not often and all visits are supervised. Death Row inmates cannot talk with each other.

This week, Japan executed Three Men

In a press release yesterday, the locals as well as the world learned that three men had been hung by the Japanese Government as punishment for their crimes. This brings the total number of executions in Japan for this year to 7 (Japan executed 4 men this past January). Last year, Japan carried out 15 death sentences.

The three men? All convicted of murder, ranging in age from 25 to 41. Hiroshi Maeue, 40, was convicted of three murders in 2005. Maeue was found guilty of finding victims through the internet, where they had posted on a type of suicide forum. Yukio Yamaji, 25, was convicted of the sexual assault and murder of two sisters, also in 2005. Chen Detong, 41, was convicted of the robbery and murder of three roommates, back in 1999. Two of the hangings took place in the Osaka facility, the third in Tokyo.

Let's Consider the Differences

Japan doesn't take as long to go from conviction to execution. There's no advance warning to the inmate, and there's no comfort to the inmate or his loved ones by any goodbye, or being present at the time of execution. Of course, the victims' families aren't allowed the opportunity of closure by being present at the execution, either. No lawyers are there. And, the method of execution is considered by many to be cruel and unusual punishment - one wonders why Japan doesn't follow the trend of lethal injection. Capital punishment may not happen as often as it does in the United States, but when it does occur it is a secretive event whose speed and absence of review and witness would not be tolerated here.

If there must be capital punishment in this country -- WHILE there is capital punishment in this country -- at least we can take some small measure of comfort in recognizing all the benefits that our due process protections provide us.

It is a horrific thing, to consider that the government kills its own citizens. But at least we get to be present to take comfort in being there for those last moments, and thank God we have procedures in place (like WITNESSES) to make sure those deaths are not cruel and inhumane.

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