Executions in 2014: min. 607 plus 'thousands' in China

The People’s Republic of China.

In the year 2008, one country performed 70 % of all executions worldwide: the People’s Republic of China. As in any other year more people were executed legally than in all other countries of the world together.

Amnesty International speaks about at least 1718 executions in 2008.  The estimation of the Dui Hua Foundation with its office in San Francisco - which has maintained good relationships to government officials - is by far higher:  “According to our estimation, the number of executions is more than 5,000 -  perhaps even 7,000 - in 2008”, said  John Kamm, the managing director of the foundation.

As China still treats executions like a state secret and does not provide any official numbers on the death penalty, Amnesty decided not to give any numbers on executions in the People's Republic in their yearly report on the state of the death penalty world wide in 2009, instead Amnesty speaks of 'thousands' of executions.

The actual number of the executions performed in China and the pronounced death sentences is concealed by the authorities although executions have to be made known to the public for some time now.

In China the death penalty can be imposed for 55 crimes. Among them are murder, rape or also kidnapping of women and children. Also the “conspiracy for the endangerment of the sovereignty, of the territory and the security of the country” can have as a consequence the death penalty. Apart from that the list also contains many crimes without the use of force, such as the causing of a breach of a dyke, the pilfering of tombs, the operating of a brothel, the sabotage of the power supply, the smuggling of cultural items, the acceptance of bribe moneys, smuggling of drugs, fraudulent procuring of financial means, counterfeit money, credit card fraud or the smuggling of rare plants.

During the first police interrogations the suspects have no right to a lawyer and they are also represented before court not or only to a limited extent by a lawyer. Foreigners before Chinese courts often have no interpreter and thus cannot follow the hearing. Only since the year 2002 the judges must have absolved a study course in legal sciences.

The above are only some of the things which favor the coming up of miscarriages of justice.

Only since January 2006, cases in which the death penalty is requested have been discussed in public in the presence of three judges and the accused is entitled to be heard.

In China there are death penalties which are immediately (after the passing of the appeals) executed and death penalties with a two-year moratorium. During these two years the prisoner works in forced labor.  After the expiration of this time the public prosecutor of the respective province decides whether the judgment will be actually enforced or whether the sentence will be converted into a life sentence (normally 15 to 20 years).

The average time between the imposition of a death sentence immediately enforceable and the execution amounts to less than one year.

Since 1 January 2007, the People’s Supreme Court must prove all death sentences before an execution.

Inmates are informed only one day before their execution about their immediately pending fate.  The families of the condemned usually learn of the pending execution too late to say good bye to their family members.

The most common method of execution has been a shot in the back of the head through a police officer. Since September 2001, the lethal injection may be used as a method of execution.

Since March 2003 there are mobile execution institutions: Minibuses which shuttle between the provincial courts. In these buses executions can be performed through a lethal injection. In October 2009, the first permanent institution for the administering of the lethal injection was completed in Beijing.

There are plans to abolish executions through shooting in the year 2010 and to replace by the lethal injection.

Become involved

If you would love to do something against the death penalty but you just don’t have the time to become an active member of an organization and pen friendships have never been just the thing for you?  

There are many different ways one can become involved. We’ve collected a few ideas what can be done on these pages.  


In our shop we offer miscellaneous articles which you can use to demonstrate your rejection of the death penalty in public. There are t-shirts, sweaters and jackets in different forms and colors, but also cups, bags, baseball caps and buttons.