Urgent Action – Yang Jia (China)

September 5, 2008

UA 246/08 – Death Penalty (PDF)

CHINA – Yang Jia (m), aged 28

Unemployed Beijing resident Yang Jia was sentenced to death on 1 September by Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People’s Court, after a closed trial. According to a Xinhua news agency report, he had confessed to premeditated murder. He could be executed within weeks.

According to Xinhua, Yang Jia stabbed a security guard and started a fire in the entrance to a police station in Shanghai’s Zhabei district on 1 July, then went into the station and stabbed nine police officers. Five of them died immediately, another later in hospital. Yang Jia was detained at the scene.

Yang Jia had been detained on 15 October 2007 in Shanghai for riding an unlicensed bicycle, which the Zhahei district police accused him of stealing. According to the Xinhua report, Yang later tried to file a complaint about his treatment during the interrogation, requesting an apology and compensation of 10,000 Yuan (approx. US$1,500) for “psychological damage.” The police supervisory board rejected the complaint. The police have released a four-minute video recording of the 40-minute interrogation, which, according to a Beijing attorney who has been following the case, shows Yang Jia arguing with the police.

According to a US press report Shanghai police told a 7 July news conference that Yang Jia had carried out the 1 July attack in revenge. The court ruled that Yang was mentally competent during the attack.

Yang Jia was represented by two lawyers, Xie Youming and Xie Jin. The police claimed that Yang had turned down the lawyer his father had found for him, and was only willing to retain the lawyers selected by his mother. However, the police refused to allow the lawyer retained by his father to see Yang. A group of Beijing lawyers have issued a letter stating that Yang’s choice of counsel has created a conflict of interest, as Xie Youming is also the counsel for the Zhahei police district where the attack took place.

It is unclear whether Yang Jia will appeal, but all death sentences in China are subject to a review by the Supreme People’s Court before the sentence is carried out. The review is aimed more at ensuring that procedures have been followed correctly, than at determining the facts of the case. Yang’s father has called the sentence unfair, and says he will ask the lawyer to appeal. A Beijing lawyer following the case said that Yang’s father would like another appraisal of his son’s psychological state done.

China executes more people each year than any other country in the world. There is likely to have been a significant drop in executions during 2007, after the Supreme People’s Court review for all death sentences, which had been scrapped in 1982, was restored. In 2007, Amnesty International recorded 470 executions, but this is an absolute minimum, based on publicly available reports. The US-based Dui Hua Foundation estimates that 6,000 people were executed that year, based on figures obtained from local officials. The official statistics on death sentences and executions are classified as state secrets.

A number of cases reported in the Chinese press in recent years reveal that innocent people have been put to death in China after unfair trials.

Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

  • calling on the authorities to ensure that Yang Jia has access to his family, legal representation of his own choosing and any medical attention he may require;
  • urging the authorities to conduct an independent investigation into allegations that Yang Jia was tortured, and bring those responsible to justice;
  • urging the authorities to commute any death sentence passed on Yang Jia to a term of imprisonment;
  • urging the authorities to ensure that China’s courts respect the most rigorous internationally recognized standards for fair trial, including the UN safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, which require adequate opportunity for defense and appeal.

A sample letter is available in MS Word.


Minister of Justice
Wu Aiying Buzhang
10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Beijingshi 100020
Fax: 011 86 10 65292345
Email: pfmaster@legalinfo.gov.cn
Salutation: Dear Minister

President of the Supreme People’s Court
Xiao Yang Yuanzhang
Zuigao Renmin Fayuan
27 Dongjiaomin Xiang
Beijingshi 100006
Fax: 011 86 10 65292345
Salutation: Dear President

Director of the Shanghai Bureau of Justice
Miao Xiaobao Juzhang
Shanghaishi Sifaju
225 Wuxinglu, Shanghaishi 200030
Email: contact_us@eastday.com
Fax: 011 86 21 64743029
Salutation: Dear Director


Director of the Shanghai Bureau of Public Security
Wu Zhiming Juzhang
Shanghaishi Gong’anju
185 Fuzhoulu, Huangpuqu
Shanghaishi 200002
Email: gaj02@shanghai.gov.cn
Salutation: Dear Director

Ambassador Wen Zhong Zhou
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 745 7473

Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if sending appeals after 17 October 2008.

Within the United States:
$0.27 – Postcards
$0.42 – Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To all other destination countries:
$0.94 – Postcards
$0.94 – Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)

Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and defends human rights.

This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help with this appeal.

Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE 5th fl
Washington DC 20003
Email: uan@aiusa.org
Phone: 202.544.0200
Fax: 202.675.8566

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s