France signs extradition treaty with China

20th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 20, 2007 (AFP) - France on Tuesday became the third EU country to sign an extradition treaty with China despite concerns from human rights groups over Beijing's use of the death penalty.

PARIS, March 20, 2007 (AFP) - France on Tuesday became the third EU country to sign an extradition treaty with China despite concerns from human rights groups over Beijing's use of the death penalty.

Justice Minister Pascal Clement told Chinese first deputy foreign minister Dai Bingguo that France would agree to extradite a suspect in cases punishable by death only on recepit of "guarantees deemed sufficient by France that capital punishment will not be handed down or executed."

"Also, this treaty provides specifically for the rejection of extradition requests based on offences that are considered political offences or military offences," he said after signing the agreement.

Spain and Portugal have also signed extradition treaties with China, and the Franco-Sino accord will have to be ratified by parliament to come into force.

Amnesty International France had urged Paris not to ratify the text because of "continuing reports of serious violations in China, including the use of the death penalty and abusive forms of arbitrary detention, torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatments."

The Paris-based League of Human Rights and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues also issued a joint appeal to the French parliament to block the treaty's adoption.

"The commercial interests of France do not justify the slightest leniency towards China," the groups said in a joint statement, describing China's penal system as "notorious for being one of the worst in existence".

Rights groups have accused the government of President Jacques Chirac of taking a soft line on China's rights record as it seeks to boost business and strategic ties with the country.

Amnesty France said there was "no certainty that a Chinese citizen extradited one day with the clearest guarantees will not be sentenced to death at a later date on a different charge."

According to Amnesty, 68 types of offences are punishable by death in China. The exact number of executions in China is a state secret but Chinese academics have estimated that 10,000 people are put to death every year.

China's rights record caused waves in the French presidential campaign in January when Socialist candidate Segolene Royal was attacked for praising the Chinese justice system during a visit to the country.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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