China: The Lowdown

May 1, 2008 in main by Rachel

Amnesty is calling for four main issue’s to be addressed by the Chinese Governement, these are: executions, fair trials, respect the rights of human rights defenders and freedom of censorship. These will be the main areas that we will focus on when we begin our campaign regarding China.


Amnesty are calling for the Chinese Government to reduce; with the intention to later abolish, the death penalty. Currently there are 68 crimes that can be punishable by death. On January 1st 2007 an important reform took place; which saw the restoration of the Supreme People’s Court, a court which reviews all death sentences passed in china. This is a positive reform but is only a beginning to ending the death penalty. Further to this reform Amnesty would like the Chinese Government to ensure that families and lawyers of those condemned to death are given access to them and to the information surrounding their case.

Fair Trails:

Currently a major element of the Chinese punitive system is ‘Re-education through Labour,’ a system that involves the detention of people without charge for extended periods of time, possibly up to three years. This is directly violating international fair trial standards, and Amnesty is calling for China to assess this situation. These so called criminals can range from ‘unlawful advertising, unlicensed taxis, unlicensed businesses, vagrancy and begging,’ hardly crimes worthy of detention for periods up to three years.

Respect for the Rights of Human Rights Defenders:

China gave assurances that the human rights issues within their country would improve during the run up to the Olympic games. However the authorities are still intimidating and harassing human rights defenders. Human rights defenders should have the freedom to highlight issues of concern without fear of penalty and repercussion.

Freedom from Censorship

The promise made by China for media freedom is not being kept. Thousands of internet police monitor cyberspace to censor any information the Chinese Government deem sensitive; phrases such as ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’ come under such material. Many Chinese people have been imprisoned for acts such as signing petitions online, it is said that china have the most effective form of internet censorship, sometimes referred to as, ‘The Great Firewall of China.’ Currently there has been more leeway given to foreign journalists and media, however domestic media is still very effectively censored.

These four issues combine to create the major aspects to the Amnesty campaign, if we can campaign around these issues we have the chance to help the people of China, and allow human rights abuses to be confronted and realized fully in terms of international law.