China Has Travelling Execution Units
By Chad Upton | Editor
Although it looks like a rockstar tour bus, this is one of at least 40 mobile execution vehicles that China uses for capital punishment. Just like a blood bank bus or MRI trailer brings a scarce resource to a remote community, death vans tour the Chinese countryside executing criminals.
Whether you agree with capital punishment or not, China is good at it. They should be, they do it more than all other countries combined. The question is: do they do it ethically?
China doesn’t disclose how many executions it performs each year, but Amnesty International estimates at least 1718 were conducted in 2008. Another group believes the number could be as high as 4,000 per year now and 8,000 when it was at its peak.
China is trying to reduce the number of executions it carries out. In 2006, Chinese law dictated sixty-eight offenses, including tax evasion, that were punishable by death. Earlier this year, tax fraud and some other non-violent crimes were removed from the death penalty list. Since 2007, all execution orders are reviewed by the high court to help ensure ethical reasoning.
A lethal injection, made from the same ingredients used in the United States, is administered in the back of the death van. The execution is broadcast live to local authorities who verify the execution is carried out legally.
But, some agencies have raised questions about what happens to the bodies after the execution. The government has indicated the bodies are taken directly to the crematorium. However, some people have complained that the bodies are not available to be viewed before they are cremated. This has sparked rumors that organs from the bodies could be sold on the black market. The Ministry of Health has tried to crack down on this by tightening controls over organ transplants. However, Amnesty International in Hong Kong claims they have evidence suggesting the Chinese police, courts and hospitals participate in the organ trade.
Historically, gunshots have been the most popular method of capital punishment in China. They’re cheap, quick and don’t require a lot of expertise to perform. The gunshot executions are still used, but they’re being replaced by lethal injection. They’re not performed by a firing squad like some other countries, they are performed by one shooter.
Some people wish the government continued to use guns since lethal injections are expensive. The lethal cocktails costs about $125 and a trip to the execution chamber can cost local authorities as much as $250. The death vans were created to help reduce the cost of lethal injections; instead of sending all the criminals to the cities, the death vans come to them.
Ironically, one of the companies that makes these killing machines also makes bulletproof vehicles that help others escape death.
Photo: Jinguan Group