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UN expert urges China to cancel scheduled execution

Akmal Shaikh was executed by lethal injection on Tuesday 29 December 2009
24 December 2009
GENEVA – The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, today called on the Government of China to cancel the scheduled execution of Mr Akmal Shaikh, who was sentenced to death on drug trafficking charges. “There are very strong indications that Mr Shaikh suffers from mental illness and, on the information available, the Chinese courts failed to take this into account,”Alston said. “Both Chinese and international law clearly indicate that a person who committed a crime while suffering from significant mental illness should not be subjected to the death penalty.”
Alston noted that China has recently taken some important steps to ensure that the death penalty is carried out in accordance with the applicable international standards. “Executing a mentally ill man would be a major step backwards for China and I very much hope that the Government will grant clemency in this case.” He noted that in October 2009 he had requested the Government to review the decision by the judicial authorities to deny the defendant a mental health evaluation, but had received no reply to his communication.
Philip Alston has been Special Rapporteur since 2004 and, as an independent expert, reports to the UN Human Rights Council. He is John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and his experience in the human rights field includes eight years as Chairperson of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, principal legal adviser to UNICEF in the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.