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George Washington University Law School

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Unlawful execution procedures in Xinjiang - back to the Cultural Revolution?

JULY 21st UPDATE:

Joseph Wang has a clarification that is too important to be left buried in the Comments section:

The Washington Post is very confused about what happened.  Here is the original story from Radio Free Asia.

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/terror-07112008120250.html

As far as I can tell the sentencing was public but the execution was not, which is in accordance with Article 212 of the Criminal Procedure Law.

ORIGINAL POST BELOW:

The July 19th issue of the Washington Post carries a story that leads with three executions in Yengishahar, Xinjiang Province. I won't comment on the political issues involved, except to note that the executions occur in the context of an overall pre-Olympic security crackdown that has resulted in detentions, house arrests, and internal deportations - very often without any legal basis that I know of - for those considered "elements of instability" (不安定因素) such as activist lawyers and petitioners.

The interesting legal aspect of these executions is that they are reported to have been carried out in front of an audience of thousands. It is impossible to believe that the authorities in charge were not aware of Article 212 of the Criminal Procedure Law, which states clearly that executions shall not be carried out in public (the Chinese term, 示众, is more like "displayed to the masses"). One also doubts that the condemned were offered the chance for some last words, as is also required by Article 212. Thus, one can only conclude that when the law prohibited the authorities from doing what they wished to do, they simply didn't give a damn.

Here's the text of Art. 212:

第二百一十二条 人民法院在交付执行死刑前,应当通知同级人民检察院派员临场监督。
死刑采用枪决或者注射等方法执行。
死刑可以在刑场或者指定的羁押场所内执行。
指挥执行的审判人员,对罪犯应当验明正身,讯问有无遗言、信札,然后交付执行人员执行死刑。在执行前,如果发现可能有错误,应当暂停执行,报请最高人民法院裁定。
执行死刑应当公布,不应示众。
执行死刑后,在场书记员应当写成笔录。交付执行的人民法院应当将执行死刑情况报告最高人民法院。
执行死刑后,交付执行的人民法院应当通知罪犯家属。

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/china_law_prof_blog/2008/07/unlawful-execut.html

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Comments

The Washington Post is very confused about what happened. Here is the original story from Radio Free Asia.

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/terror-07112008120250.html

As far as I can tell the sentencing was public but the execution was not, which is in accordance with Article 212 of the Criminal Procedure Law.

Posted by: Joseph C Wang | Jul 20, 2008 9:34:43 PM

Thanks to Joseph for this clarification. If the execution were indeed public, that would be an extremely significant event, and so we need to be sure of our facts here.

Posted by: Don Clarke | Jul 20, 2008 11:43:55 PM

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