Tuesday, May 16, 2017
China is equipping its courts with mobile execution vans as it shifts away from the communist system's traditional bullet in the head, towards a more "civilised" use of lethal injection. Intermediate Courts of the southern province of Yunnan were issued with 18 new execution vans on February 28 and a court official said some have already been used. "We cannot tell you how many executions so far, otherwise you could work out from the daily rate how many we carry out," the official said. Chinese authorities keep execution numbers a secret, but Western human rights monitors believe it is about 15,000 a year, more than the rest of the world's judicial executions combined. The death penalty can apply for serious crimes against the person, armed robbery, drug trafficking, major cases of corruption and political violence. Many public executions have been held in football stadiums so traditional execution methods are no secret. The condemned criminal is taken by open truck to the execution ground and made to kneel with hands cuffed and head bowed, before being shot in the head. Families who want to reclaim the body are charged for the bullet. China's legal system allows only one appeal and lawyers say that less than 20 per cent of defendants have professional legal representation. When appeals against the death penalty are rejected, the sentence is carried out immediately, sometimes within hours. In Yunnan, as well as in the cities of Harbin and Shanghai, death on the road has replaced death row. The execution vans are converted 24-seater buses. The windowless execution chamber at the back contains a metal bed on which the prisoner is strapped down. A police officer presses a button and an automatic syringe plunges a lethal drug into the prisoner's vein. The execution can be watched on a video monitor next to the driver's seat and be recorded if required. Court officials say the lethal drug was devised by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences to meet two criteria: that it causes no sharp pain or emotional upset for the prisoner and that it works within 30 to 60 seconds. Although the vans cost about 500,000 yuan ($A100,000) each, officials say the method is cheaper and requires less manpower than traditional executions, because land for traditional execution grounds is not cheap. But the main impetus was a law passed in 1995, making lethal injection an alternative to the bullet. Yunnan officials say most prisoners and their families prefer the injection. "When they know they can't be pardoned, they accept this method calmly, and have less fear," one official told the Chinese Life Weekly.
Posted by Maqsood Qureshi at 12:13 PM