Amnesty International has criticised China’s execution of 53-year-old Briton Akmal Shaikh, who was convicted of drug smuggling by the Chinese authorities, as a “slap in the face” of the international community. The NGO also called on Beijing to fulfill its human rights commitments by abolishing the death penalty.
According to Amnesty, of the 2,400 executions recorded around the world in 2008, more than 1,700 took place in China. (Activists suggest that the real number could be far higher.)
I don’t want to defend the execution, but I take issue with some of the points raised by Amnesty. First of all, the more than 1,700 executions that took place in China (even if the actual figure were significantly higher) is statistically just a drop in the ocean as a proportion of its 1.3 billion population.
Furthermore, the comparison is based on recorded executions. I suppose this does not include data from certain countries where executions may have taken place without the benefit of due legal process.
Lastly, some 58 countries actively retained the death penalty, so why selectively condemn China?