Chinese TV Airs Drug Traffickers' Final Moments

By McCarton Ackerman 03/01/13

China causes outrage by broadcasting the moments before an execution on live television.

Drug lord Naw Kham on his way to be
executed, as a nation watches.
Photo via

Today, Chinese state television aired an hour of live footage of four foreign drug traffickers, just moments before they were executed, setting off a storm of criticism. Although the cameras pulled away before the actual executions took place, many psychologists are saying the harrowing footage could traumatize children. And lawyers are claiming that it violated a law against parading the condemned before execution. "I don’t know of any other country, not Iran, Afghanistan or North Korea, that has nationally broadcast in this way the last moments of an executed prisoner," says Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch. "It is a step backward at a time we thought China was making progress with the death penalty." Still, many in China are applauding the actual executions, because of the particularly violent nature of the crimes that were committed. The traffickers, including Myanmar kingpin Naw Kham, received the death penalty for the 2011 killings of 13 Chinese fishermen, who were ambushed, shot and dumped in the Mekong River. At the time, the Chinese government considered using a drone attack to kill the traffickers, but in the end they tracked them down and captured them by land. Although the number of people given the death penalty in China has declined in recent years, the 4,000 people executed each year is still more than all other countries in the world combined.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.