'Barbaric and exploitative': Human rights charities hit out at China for televising final moments before executing death row inmates

Chris Parsons
Naw Kham is led to his execution from a prison van, live on Chinese state television (Rex)

Human rights groups have branded Chinese authorities 'exploitative' and 'utterly barbaric' after the state televised the final moments of four men before they were executed.

Notorious southeast Asian drug lord Naw Kham and three accomplices were killed by lethal injection one year on from being captured in an international manhunt.

Naw Kham was among the most infamous criminals in southeast Asia after being blamed for the murder of 13 Chinese sailors in an ambush on the Mekong River in October 2011.

At 2.19pm local time, 44-year-old Mr Naw, along with Hsang Kham, Yi Lai and Zha Xika, were bundled into security vans in Kunming, in southwestern China, before reportedly issuing lethal injections to all four men just before 3pm.

The Yunnan province Public Security Bureau then posted online a message simply saying: "Execution implemented."

As well as televising the criminals' final moments, China's state-run CCTV news channel also ran a face-to-face interview with Naw Kham from February 27, in which he said he was 'afraid of death' and 'missed his mum'.

Human rights charities today hit out at the decision to broadcast the moments before the execution.

Clare Algar, executive director of Reprieve, a charity who enforce the human rights of prisoners, told Yahoo! today: "It is completely outrageous for the Chinese Government to parade these people on television before killing them.

"As if the death penalty weren’t cruel enough – this behaviour is utterly barbaric."

Related: Which countries still use capital punishment?

There was similar outrage on social media sites, where Chinese people condemned the shameless televising of the final moments.

The actual executions were not shown on television.

Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher at Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group, added: "It's predatory, voyeuristic and exploitative and that defeats the very purpose of having a legal system."

One user on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, wrote: "They tied him in ropes and paraded him in front of 1.3 billion Chinese -- is this what the human rights the government always stresses is really all about?"

"I know they killed 13 Chinese people and it was a terrible thing, but it's really not appropriate to live broadcast the execution process like this and it goes against Supreme Court rules," wrote another.

Naw Kham was caught in April last year after a year-long international man-hunt.

The elusive gangster had been compared to Osama Bin Laden, and at one point Chinese security forces were thought to be considering deploying a drone to eliminate him.

In September, Mr Naw and the three accomplices were convicted of the massacre of 13 Chinese sailors and were sentenced to death.

Amnesty International have previously said there are 20 countries worldwide which still use the death penalty.

Of the countries which use it the most, China is by far the most prolific.

The country executes more people each year than the rest of the world put together.

It is thought that China kills thousands each year - but exact figures are difficult to establish as the secretive state does not release them.

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