Death Penalty: '22-candle' vigils put spotlight on China

Amnesty groups across the UK mark World Day against the Death Penalty

Amnesty International will be marking World Day against the Death Penalty (10 October) with candlelit vigils across the UK to highlight the number of people executed in China.

Amnesty groups will be holding the vigils, each with 22 candles to symbolise the number of people that Amnesty estimates is executed every day in China.

The death penalty is used for some 68 crimes in China, including such offences as taking a bribe or re-selling a VAT receipt. Reliable estimates suggest that up to 8,000 people will be executed in China over the next year – nearly 22 every day.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said: “When China was bidding for the Olympics the Chinese authorities stated that the Beijing Olympics would help the development of human rights in China.

“The continuing use of the death penalty violates the fundamental human right to life. China needs to put an end to this barbaric practice.

“In the short-term we are calling for increasing transparency. By the end of 2008, the Chinese government must start to publish official statistics on the total number of people sentenced to death and executed. In addition, the number of crimes punishable by death must be dramatically reduced.”

Amnesty members are also sending letters to the Chinese authorities demanding an end to all executions.

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