SAfrica rights group slams government after execution
South Africa's Human Rights Commission on Tuesday accused the government of putting trade with Beijing ahead of human rights after a female drug mule from Durban was executed in China.
"Death is a cruel penalty and the legal processes which necessarily involve waiting in uncertainty for the sentence to be set aside or carried out, add to the cruelty," the body said in a statement.
China executed Janice Linden, 35, by lethal injection for drug smuggling on Monday after rejecting last-minute pleas for clemency from her government.
"The commission however remains deeply concerned that the governments foreign policy appears to focus primarily on enhancing trade with China, but falls short of considering the human rights dimensions of South Africas relationship with China," the statement added.
Linden's body was cremated and her ashes were expected to arrive back in South Africa on Wednesday.
The commission stated that it recognised China's right to punish those found guilty of crimes, but opposed the sentence. The death penalty was abolished in South Africa in 1995.
China is South Africa's biggest trading partner, with trade between the two countries reaching $4.9 billion (3.7 billion euros) in the first six months of the year.
Linden was arrested in China three years ago after she tried to sneak three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of methamphetamine into the country in her luggage through the southern city of Guangzhou.
She was convicted in 2009 but always maintained innocence, claiming she was framed.
China executes around 4,000 people every year, according to data released Tuesday by the San Francisco-based campaign group Dui Hua.
Executions have traditionally been carried out by shooting. But increasingly lethal injections are being used.
© 2011 AFP