China, a nation known for its human rights abuses and strict government control, has a message for food safety violators: If you endanger the public by contaminating or violating the safety of the nation's food supply, you will be put to death. This harsh new measure runs counter to some of the pledges China's Supreme Court has made to place more limitations on the use of the death penalty. CNN has more:
In a directive released by the state-run Xinhua news agency over the weekend, the Supreme People's Court said in cases where people die from food safety violations, convicted suspects should be given the death sentence, while criminals involved in non-lethal cases should face longer prison terms and larger fines.
It also called for harsher punishment for government officials found protecting food safety violators or accepting bribes from them.
"The overall food safety situation is stable and improving, but incidents that still occur regularly have seriously endangered people's lives and caused strong social reactions," the directive quoted Wang Shengjun, the country's top judge, as saying. "Our task to maintain food safety remains challenging."
According to Amnesty International, China already executes more people annually than all countries combined. While the nation's secretive nature makes it difficult to determine a definitive number, human rights groups believe the executions stand somewhere in the thousands for last year alone. It should also be noted that many of these criminals were likely put to death for non-violent crimes.
China's food safety scandals are certainly horrifying, as safety fears leave citizens scared to purchase and consume basic foods. Yet, one wonders what happens if certain crops or products are accidentally contaminated. Will the death penalty become the gold standard for dealing with these issues in China? We'll leave you with a clip from NBC News that better explains some of the scandals that have led China's high court to make what many consider a rash judicial decision: