SAHRC condemns the execution of Ms Janice Linden by the Chinese authorities
Monday, 12 December 2011
The SA Human Rights Commission condemns this morning’s execution of Ms Janice Linden by China after she was arrested for drug-possession in 2008. According to reports she was subsequently sentenced to death in 2009. Her sentence is a violation of commonly accepted basic human rights, particularly the rights to life and dignity.
The Commission recognises China’s legitimate right to punish those who are found guilty of crimes committed within its borders however, the Commission nonetheless strongly opposes the sentence.
South Africa’s Constitution abolished the death penalty that was subsequently confirmed by the Constitutional Court which held that it was the most extreme form of punishment to which a convicted criminal can be subjected. In its judgment the court held that execution is final and irrevocable and that it puts an end not only to the right to life itself, but to all other personal rights which had vested in the deceased under the Constitution.
The Court further expressed concern about the impact of the time a sentenced prisoner waits on death row in the company of other prisoners under sentence of death. Throughout this period, those who remain on death row are uncertain of their fate, not knowing whether they will ultimately be reprieved or taken to the gallows. Death is a cruel penalty and the legal processes which necessarily involve waiting in uncertainty for the sentence to be set aside or carried out, add to the cruelty. Janice Linden lived in this situation for two years which is too long.
The Commission has noted the reported interventions of the South African government in this matter. The Commission however remains deeply concerned that the government’s foreign policy appears to focus primarily on enhancing trade with China but falls short of considering the human rights dimensions of South Africa’s relationship with China. When South Africa establishes trade and diplomatic relations with any country, it is absolutely imperative that human rights principles form one of the primary pillars of these relations.
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