Amnesty International says it is appalled by China’s execution of a British national and has urged the world community to call on Beijing to fulfil its human rights commitments.


Akmal Shaikh, a 53-year-old father-of-three from London, who supporters say had bipolar disorder, was executed on Tuesday for drug smuggling despite pleas from his family and the British government for clemency.

“The actual execution is really a slap in the face of the international community,” Roseann Rife, the Hong Kong-based Asia-Pacific director for the London-based rights group, said.

Calls to abolish the death penalty

“It clearly demonstrates the authorities’ disregard for the rule of law and their human rights obligations.”

Rife said Amnesty was disappointed that China had chosen to ignore the pleas for clemency of the international community, while calling on Beijing to abolish the death penalty.

“This demonstrates that the international community has really not been raising these issues at a sufficient level to impress on the Chinese government that this is an important concern for the international community,” she said.

“What is truly appalling is that they (China) chose not to apply Chinese domestic law which could have mitigated the verdict in light of his mental illness.”

Shaikh was arrested in September 2007 in Urumqi in far western China with four kilograms of heroin.

Campaigners say a criminal gang duped him into carrying the drugs.

He was sentenced to death in December 2008 and lost his final appeal earlier this year in China’s Supreme Court.