The use of death penalty in China is at an unimaginable rate yet it remains a secret. Despite the number of executions falling sharply over the past decade, death penalties remain at a high rate. Reports from Amnesty International indicates that 1,032 state-sponsored executions have taken place worldwide in 2016. Surprisingly, the number excludes China.
The Chinese government considers the death penalties as a state secret. However, the humanitarian organization believes China executed thousands. However, it did not offer a more precise estimate due to lack of information.
Dui Hua, which is a human rights group estimates about 2,000 executions took place in China last year, down from a 6,500 a decade ago. John Kamm, who is the group's executive director revealed that tally was based on research into lower-level court cases and contacts with government officials and Chinese and Western legal scholars.
Reports from Amnesty said its figure for worldwide executions excluding China represents a 37 percent drop from 2015. The group also pointed out that the United States recorded 20 executions, which was the fewest in 25 years. The reduction can be attributed to the shortage of chemicals used in lethal injections and court rulings.
The Chinese government has faced longstanding pressure from the international community to curb its use of the death penalty. Back in 1983, China executed 24,000 people after provincial courts were given powers to meet out capital punishment.
China has also been criticized for harvesting organs from executed inmates, including for sale to patients from overseas. The practice was banned in 2015 but Bequelin said it's impossible to know whether organ harvesting for profit has ceased because the legal system operates within a black box with little transparency.
The Chinese government has narrowed which crimes can bring capital punishment but still lists more than three dozen eligible offenses, including treason, separatism, spying, arson, murder, rape, robbery and human trafficking. This was after the oversight of death sentence cases was returned to China's highest court, the Supreme People's Court back in 2007.
Hong, who is a professor of criminal law at China University of Political Science and Law revealed that there is a long tradition in China which indicates that the one that has taken people's lives should pay with his own life.
Trevaskes, who is the author of the 2012 book The Death Penalty in Contemporary China, points out that the government's attitude that all drug crimes constitute a threat to society has frustrated how drug-related cases are handled by the courts. Susan Trevaskes of Australia's Griffith University also conducted a recent study that concluded that close to half of all death sentences were handed down for drug crimes.
Trevaskes also revealed that many perpetrators of drug-related crimes are low-level people who are typically poor and are hired by traffickers to transport their illicit contraband but who reap minimal profit from the work.