Canada condemns death sentence to its national in China on drug smuggling charges, alarms global community
Ottawa, Jan 15 (IBNS): Canada has condemned the decision of a Chinese court sentencing to death Canadian national Robert Schellenberg on Monday on charges of drug smuggling. The news also evoked condemnation from human rights groups like Amnesty decrying it strongly.
Robert Schellenberg, who had reportedly appealed against his original 15-year sentence, was retried but the Dalian Intermediate People's Court in China reportedly decided on execution.
"It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty … as in this case," Trudeau told journalists in capital city Ottawa.
According to a BBC report, Schellenberg's aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, said the death sentence was "a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation".
"It is our worst case fear confirmed," she said, adding that "it is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking."
Responding to the death sentence given by a Chinese court to Canadian citizen Robert Schellenberg for drug smuggling, William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, commented: “The death sentence given to Robert Schellenberg does not deliver justice. We urge the Chinese authorities to revoke this sentence. Drug-related offences do not meet international standards for the use of capital punishment."
"China's death penalty system is shrouded in secrecy, which contributes to why many will be questioning the timing of this decision. We have seen before that in highly politicized cases the trial is often a mere spectacle with the outcome already decided.
“The sudden re-trial and apparent rush to judgment has highlighted the numerous flaws in China’s judicial system. We hope that Robert Schellenberg and his defence counsel are given adequate time to prepare and respond to the prosecution’s new evidence when the case is finally brought up for appeal."
According to Amnesty, Robert Schellenberg had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug smuggling, charges he denies, at his original trial in November 2018 at the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in China’s northeast Liaoning Province.
At the appeal hearing held on 29 December 2018, prosecutors said that they had uncovered new evidence and argued that the original sentence was too lenient. He received a death sentence at a re-trial by the same Dalian Intermediate People’s Court on Monday.
According to Amnesty, China executes more people than any other country in the world; however, the number of death sentences imposed and number of executions carried out are shrouded in secrecy.
"The authorities continue to execute a significant number of individuals for drug related and other offences which do not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted under international law."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)