Courts must allow death-row inmates to see families before execution

Updated: 2013-07-16 18:28


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Courts should respect criminals' rights, even if they are on death row, said an editorial in Southern Metropolis Daily (excerpts below).

Zeng Chengjie, charged with fraud in Changsha, Hunan province, was sentenced to death in May 2011. He was executed on July 12. But his family was not informed of the execution.

The Supreme People's Court's explanation was that criminals with a death sentence have the right to see their family members before the execution. But the right has not been granted by courts at various levels.

Zeng Chengjie's daughter Zeng Shan asked the Changsha court to give her the chance to see her father before the execution. But the court turned down her application. Zeng then asked the court to allow her to take her father's body. The court refused her request again and only let her take her father's ashes.

According to Chinese law, the judicial authority has the right only to take lives of death-row criminals, not to dispose of the bodies.

The central judicial authority must monitor courts at various levels to ensure they abide by the laws to protect the legal rights of death-row inmates and respect the humanitarian requests of families.