China Urged to Come Clean About “Grotesque” Level of Capital Punishment
Simon Denyer, WASHINGTON POST
China is the world’s biggest executioner, putting to death considerably more people every year than the rest of the world combined. Yet its “horrifying” use of the death penalty remains shrouded in secrecy and plagued by injustice, Amnesty International says in a new report. “China must come clean about the ‘grotesque’ level of capital punishment,” Amnesty said in a news release accompanying its 2016 global review of the death penalty. Excluding China, other states put 1,032 people to death in 2016. China’s official death penalty figures are a state secret, but Amnesty said it continues to execute thousands of people every year. In China, crimes such as robbery, arson, embezzlement and selling state secrets are all potentially worthy of the death penalty. But it is not only the scale of the executions that disturbs activists, it is the lack of judicial process involved in the trials.
New China-Backed Leader of Hong Kong Says No Room for Independence
Christian Shepherd and Donny Kwowk, REUTERS
Hong Kong leader-elect Carrie Lam said on Tuesday there is no room for moves towards independence in the former British colony which she said needs the support of the central government in Beijing to boost economic development over the next five years. Leaders in Beijing have been increasingly concerned about a fledgling independence movement in the financial hub that returned to mainland rule in 1997 with a promise of autonomy. Hong Kong has seen tumultuous times over the past couple of years, with pro-democracy protests quelled, an increase in what many residents see as creeping interference by Beijing and the rise of a small but vocal movement pushing for independence.
China Draft Cyber Law Mandates Security Assessment for Outbound Data
Cate Cadell, REUTERS
China’s top cyber authority on Tuesday released a draft law that would require firms exporting data to undergo an annual security assessment, in the latest of several recent safeguards against threats such as hacking and terrorism. Any business transferring data of over 1000 gigabytes or affecting over 500,000 users will be assessed on its security measures and on the potential of the data to harm national interests. The law would ban the export of any economic, technological or scientific data whose transfer would pose a threat to security or public interests. It would also require firms to obtain the consent of users before transmitting data abroad. The proposed law, which focuses on personal information security, comes just a day after state media reported government rewards of $1,500 to $73,000 for citizens who report suspected spies.
Three Lao Workers Jailed For Criticizing Government Online Still Held After More Than a Year
RADIO FREE ASIA
Three Lao workers arrested last year for criticizing their government on Facebook while working in Thailand are still in custody with no resolution of their case in sight, prompting calls from friends and human rights groups for their release. Somphone Phimmasone, 29, his girlfriend Lod Thammavong, 30, and Soukane Chaithad, 32, disappeared in March 2016 after returning to Laos to renew their passports. While working in Thailand, the three had strongly criticized the Lao government online, accusing it of human rights abuses. They were later shown on Lao television making what appeared to be public confessions for what they called the mistake of protesting the country’s policies. Friends and supporters meanwhile continue to call for their release.
North Korea’s Parliament Meets, with Kim Jong-un at Center
Eric Talmadge, ASSOCIATED PRESS
North Korea’s parliament convened on Tuesday, with the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, taking the center seat. The parliament meeting comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with the United States and South Korea conducting their biggest-ever military exercises and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier heading to the area in a show of American strength. The Supreme People’s Assembly, nominally the highest organ of government, usually meets once or twice a year. It consists of approximately 600 deputies from around the country who usually confirm new domestic policies, changes to the constitution, budget decisions, laws, and official appointments.
117 North Koreans in Malaysia Given One Week to Leave
Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Authorities in Malaysia are looking for 117 North Koreans who have overstayed their work permits, according to the country’s Immigration Department. North Koreans were temporarily barred from leaving Malaysia during a three-week diplomatic row with Pyongyang following the death of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. That standoff ended, but it revealed that a significant number of North Koreans lived and worked in Malaysia. All 117 North Koreans wanted by immigration are in the state of Sarawak, according to a source, as it is the only state that employs North Korean workers. North Korea sends thousands of workers abroad, and their wages are believed to be worth billions of dollars to the regime, according to a report from the United Nations.
US Asks G7 Ministers Why It Should Care About Ukraine Conflict
Crispian Balmar, REUTERS
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked his European counterparts on Tuesday why American voters should care about the conflict in Ukraine, France’s foreign minister said. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Tillerson had openly questioned why “American taxpayers” should be concerned about Ukraine, which has been racked by a separatist conflict for the last three years. Ayrault told reporters he had replied: “It is in the interests of the US taxpayers to have a Europe that is secure and is strong politically and economically… You don’t want a weak Europe, broken into bits and feeble.” The West slapped sanctions on Russia in 2014 over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and its support for the rebels in eastern Ukraine, in a conflict in which more than 10,000 people have been killed.
Venezuelans Mount Another Wave of Anti-government Protests
Eyanir Chinea and Alexandra Ulmer, REUTERS
Venezuelan opposition supporters took to the streets again on Monday in sometimes violent clashes to protest an economic crisis and an erosion of democracy under the country’s leftist leader Nicolás Maduro, in the first sustained wave of anti-government demonstrations in three years. Demonstrators gathered in several cities on Monday for a fourth round of protests in 10 days, blocking the main highway through Caracas in the morning until they were dispersed by National Guard troops. Opposition leaders slammed the government for arbitrary use of force in breaking up Monday’s demonstrations. They pointed to tear gas being fired into one Caracas clinic, requiring a baby to be rushed out by medical technicians. “Not even in war are there are attacks on hospitals and health centers,” said opposition legislator Jose Manuel Olivares in a news conference.
Under Siege at Home, Venezuela’s Maduro Gets Support from Regional Allies in Cuba
Venezuela’s leftist regional allies have pledged to support its embattled government at a summit in Havana, where leader Nicolás Maduro accused the opposition of resorting to violence to lay the groundwork for a foreign invasion. The show of solidarity comes as Maduro faces intensifying criticism abroad, as well as the first sustained wave of anti-government demonstrations in three years, fueled by an economic crisis and erosion of democracy. “We reject the aggressions and concerted manipulations against our ally,” read the statement published by the leftist ALBA bloc of 11 Caribbean and Latin American countries on Monday. The association was founded by Communist-ruled Cuba and its top ally Venezuela 13 years ago as a counterpoint to US influence in Latin America.