Death-Penalty Moratorium Asked by U.N. Panel

U.S. Rejects Call; China Executing Hundreds

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GENEVA, APR. 25, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The U.N. Human Rights Commission called for suspension of the death penalty worldwide, with the United States again joining a minority in rejecting the call, Reuters reported today.

In a nonbinding vote, 27 members of the 53-state commission OK´d a European Union motion asking nations for a moratorium on judicial executions as a step toward the eventual banning of capital punishment.

Eighteen states opposed the motion. The United States sided with a number of Arab, African and Asian states in rejecting the move, arguing that there was nothing in international law that precluded use of the death penalty.

In Europe, concern has increased at the number of executions carried out in the United States, with last November´s election of George W. Bush as president. Bush is a firm supporter of capital punishment.

In China, meanwhile, more than 350 convicted criminals have been executed since President Jiang Zemin announced a “strike hard” campaign against organized crime earlier this month, Agence France-Presse reported Monday.

Those executed had been found guilty of violent crimes, including murder, armed robbery, theft and kidnapping, a local newspaper said.

According to Amnesty International, China executes more people annually than the rest of the world combined. In 1999, the human rights group recorded at least 1,263 executions in China and 2,088 death sentences.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, the ongoing “strike hard” campaign is the fourth in China since 1983 and comes as criminal cases have risen by 50% since 1999. Gang-related crimes are up seven times and the number of explosions has increased by 2.6 times, the agency said.

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