Update on Urgent Action – Wo Weihan (China)

Amnesty International issued a press release and the update below for Wo Weihan of China who may be executed as early as this Thursday, November 27. There is not enough time to mail letters. Please fax letters to the numbers listed below. A sample letter is available in MS Word (or view online).


25 November 2008

Further Information on UA 322/08 (21 November 2008) Death Penalty/Imminent execution

CHINA – Wo Weihan (m) aged 59

Wo Weihan’s family has received an oral confirmation that the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) has approved his death sentence. Wo Weihan’s family is scheduled to meet with him on the morning of 27 November at the Beijing Municipal No 2 Intermediate People’s Court. It is possible that he will be executed as early as that same day.

Wo Weihan was sentenced to death in May 2007 for spying by Beijing Municipal No 2 Intermediate People’s Court, after a closed trial. The Beijing Municipal Higher People’s Court upheld the original sentence on appeal in February 2008. The case was then reviewed by the SPC. According to China’s Criminal Procedure Law, the court of the first instance will be responsible for carrying out the execution.

There are serious concerns that Wo Weihan did not receive a fair trial. During the first ten months of his detention, no one was allowed to meet with him. According to the verdict of his trial, Wo Weihan confessed to the charges while in detention. His family says that he later recanted his confession and claimed his innocence.

Since being detained in January 2005 he has not had been allowed visits from his family. Wo Weihan suffered a brain hemorrhage in March 2005, two weeks after being detained. He has been held in Beijing Municipal Bo Ren Hospital (a prison hospital) since.

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 SPC resumed power to review for all death sentences handed down for immediate execution, some of which had been delegated to the higher people’s courts since 1980. 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 between 5,000 and 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. Common failures include: lack of prompt access to lawyers, lack of presumption of innocence, political interference in the judiciary and failure to exclude evidence extracted through torture.

Several Chinese lawyers have complained that they are not able to access the SPC review tribunals. In response to such concerns, the SPC and Ministry of Justice promulgated new regulations on 21 May 2008 aimed at safeguarding the defense role played by lawyers during the review process. It remains to be seen how effectively they will be implemented.

A joint directive issued by leading judicial organs in March 2007 urged judicial departments to strictly control and prudently apply death sentences, to safeguard the legal rights of suspects and to ensure that death penalty prisoners have the right to meet their family after the sentence is confirmed.

Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

  • urging the authorities not to execute Wo Weihan;
  • expressing concern that Wo Weihan may not have received a fair trial according to international standards, particularly as he was not allowed prompt access to a lawyer;
  • urging the authorities to immediately establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, as provided by UN General Assembly resolution 62/149, adopted on 18 December 2007.

Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress
WU Bangguo Weiyuanzhang
Quanguo Renda Changwu Weiyuanhui Bangongting
23 Xijiaominhang
Beijingshi 100805
Fax: 011 86 10 659 61109 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Salutation: Dear Chairman

Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China
WEN Jiabao Guojia Zongli
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Beijingshi 100017
Fax: 011 86 10 65961109 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Beijing Municipal No 2 Intermediate People’s Court
10 Fangzhunglu
100078 Beijingshi

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


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

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