Amnesty International Report 1995 - Macao
|Publication Date||1 January 1995|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1995 - Macao, 1 January 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9ff1c.html [accessed 24 April 2014]|
Three men faced extradition to the People's Republic of China, where they were at risk of being sentenced to death.
In October Chinese members of the Sino-Portuguese Joint Liaison Group, which deals with issues surrounding the transfer of Macao to Chinese administration in 1999, indicated that they would not object to a proposed revision of the Macao Penal Code formally excluding the death penalty, which was abolished in Macao in the 19th century. However, the revised Penal Code did not appear to effectively guarantee that the death penalty, widely used in China, would not be restored after 1999. The Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region, adopted by China's National People's Congress in 1993 and due to come into force in 1999, lacks safeguards against the death penalty. It also lacks adequate safeguards against torture and ill-treatment, guarantees for fair trial, guarantees to protect the exercise of all fundamental human rights, and safeguards against the curtailment of basic rights under a state of emergency. It also fails to safeguard fully the independence of the judiciary in accordance with international standards.
In July journalists in Macao wrote to Portuguese President Mario Soares to express concern about complaints brought by Macao authorities against three Portuguese-language newspapers, which they alleged amounted to restrictions on their freedom of expression. In May the President of the Macao Supreme Court reportedly initiated proceedings against the newspaper Futuro de Macau, apparently for reproducing comments by Amnesty International on a Supreme Court decision relating to extradition cases (see below). The case against the newspaper was apparently dropped later in the year. Some of the other cases were still pending at the end of the year.
Three men were threatened with extradition to China, where they were at risk of being sentenced to death on criminal charges. Yeung Yuk Leung and Lei Chan Wa, detained in 1993, and Leong Chong Men, detained in April 1994, were wanted by the Chinese authorities in connection with criminal charges carrying the death penalty. In April and September the Macao Supreme Court ruled that the three could be extradited, despite a Portuguese presidential decree prohibiting the extradition of alleged offenders to countries where they may face execution. The Chinese authorities had reportedly given assurances that the death penalty would not be sought by prosecutors in any of these cases, but the legal status of the assurances remained unclear. All three men appealed to the Constitutional Court in Portugal. In July the European Commission on Human Rights called on the Portuguese authorities to ensure that the extraditions remain suspended pending the Constitutional Court's decision. The cases were still pending at the end of the year.
In March Amnesty International learned that a man facing a similar risk of execution had been detained in October 1993 by Macao police and handed over to the Chinese authorities without any judicial review whatsoever. James Peng, a Chinese-born Australian national, was reportedly arrested by police at his hotel in October 1993, taken a few hours later to the Chinese border and handed over to waiting Chinese officials. At the end of the year he was still in detention awaiting trial in China, and risked being sentenced to death on charges of embezzlement. No inquiry into the circumstances of his arrest in Macao and transfer to China was known to have taken place.
In February and again in April, Amnesty International expressed concern about the threatened extraditions. In April an Amnesty International representative visited Macao to inquire about these cases and about legislation concerning freedom of expression.