China Must Halt Execution of Woman Who Killed Violent Husband

Press Release
January 23, 2013

China Must Halt Execution of Woman Who Killed Violent Husband

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @AIUSAmedia

(Washington, D.C.) – A Chinese woman who beat her husband to death with a gun after suffering months of domestic violence should not be executed, Amnesty International urged on Wednesday.

Li Yan, 41, from Sichuan province in South West China could be executed any day between now and the Chinese New Year in early February.

“Justice is not served by executing Li Yan," said Roseann Rife, head of East Asia program at Amnesty International. "Amnesty International calls upon the Chinese authorities to commute her death sentence to a term of imprisonment."

Li was sentenced to death in August 2011 for the murder of her husband, Tan Yong, in late 2010. Tan began abusing Li not long after the couple married in early 2009. Tan inflicted frequent beatings on his wife, cut off one of her fingers, stubbed cigarettes out on her face and during the freezing Sichuan winters, locked her outside on the balcony of their apartment for several hours with little clothing.

Li Yan contacted the authorities, including the police, on several occasions to seek protection and required hospital treatment after one attack. The police took pictures of Li’s injuries after one of the beatings, but no action was taken and the violence continued.

Amnesty International is concerned that the judges did not fully take into account the evidence of sustained abuse that Li suffered, including testimonies of the abuse by others, when sentencing her to death and at her subsequent appeal.

"Had the Chinese authorities protected Li, as they are required to under international law, this tragic outcome could have been avoided," said Rife. "Li’s claims should have been properly investigated and her husband prosecuted before she resorted to violence herself. Victims of domestic violence should not have to live in fear and isolation. The Chinese authorities are obliged to prevent violence against women, including by their husbands, and to properly investigate all claims and prosecute those responsible. They need to address this issue urgently and provide proper support and protection.”

The Supreme People’s Court in Beijing approved Li Yan’s death sentence in mid-January. She is currently being held at Anyue County Detention Center.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.