All eyes were on Canada’s Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on Saturday as both returned home after spending nearly three years in apparently arbitrary detention in China.
Heartwarming pictures and videos of the two reuniting with their families surfaced. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday called his return home “good news for all of us”, noting that they have both gone through an “incredibly difficult test”.
But as of Sunday at least 115 Canadians are detained in Chinese prisons, Granthshala Affairs Canada said in an emailed statement to Granthshala News. Not all Canadians imprisoned in China are in arbitrary detention, but the agency said at least four of those incarcerated are on death row.
“Canada opposes the death penalty on all counts, everywhere,” Granthshala Affairs Canada said.
“We have strongly opposed the death penalty with China and continue to call on China to grant clemency to all Canadians sentenced to death.”
The agency said it reviews each detention on a case-by-case basis, as consular officers often require a “tailored approach” that can be adapted to different local contexts and circumstances.
Here’s a look at four Canadians who are currently on the death row.
The most recent of those sentenced to death is Canadian Robert Schellenberg of Abbotsford, British Columbia. Liaoning High Court Upheld his death sentence on 10 August After the appeal made in the summer.
Schellenberg was detained in China on drug charges in 2014 and was formally charged with drug trafficking in January 2015. Initially, a Chinese court sentenced him to 15 years in prison. But four years later, his decision was overturned after a trial and he was sentenced to death.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Garneau said in August that Canada “strongly” condemned the court’s decision to uphold the death penalty for Schellenberg.
“We have repeatedly expressed our strong opposition to this brutal and inhuman punishment to China and will continue to engage with Chinese officials at the highest level to grant Mr Schellenberg a clemency,” he said, shortly after the ruling.
“We oppose the death penalty in all cases, and condemn the arbitrary nature of Mr Schellenberg’s sentence.”
In an emailed statement to Granthshala News, Granthshala Affairs Canada reiterated that the federal government “strongly opposes” Schellenberg’s decision to arbitrarily impose and uphold the death penalty.
The agency said it would “continue to engage with Chinese officials at the highest level to seek clemency for Mr Schellenberg.”
On August 6, 2020, Xu Weihong of Canada was sentenced to death by the Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court on drug manufacturing charges. He also sentenced Wen Guanxiong, who he claims helped Xu make ketamine.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin justified Xu’s death sentence during a briefing last year, saying the death penalty would help “prevent and prevent” similar crimes in the future.
“I would like to emphasize that the judicial authorities of China independently handle the related matter in accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures,” Wang said.
He added that “the matter should not affect China-Canada relations.”
Ye Jianhui is the fourth Canadian to be sentenced to death in China.
He was sentenced in August last year on charges of manufacturing and transporting drugs by the Foshan Municipal Intermediate Court, just a day after Xu.
Ye and co-defendant Lu Hanchang conspired with others to manufacture and transport drugs between May 2015 and January 2016. The Associated Press reported last year.
Asked last year whether the conviction of Canadian drug offenders was linked to Meng’s case, Wang said that China’s judicial organs “handle cases independently”, adding that “the Canadian side Knows the root cause of difficulties in Sino-Canadian relations”.
Fan Wei was sentenced to death on April 30, 2019, along with 11 others for his involvement in an international methamphetamine operation.
Speaking to Granthshala News on the day of his sentencing, Granthshala Affairs Canada said officers participated in the sentencing and the reading of the verdict. He called for clemency from China, saying the decision to impose the “brutal and inhuman” death penalty in Fan’s case was of “extreme concern” to his government.
Granthshala Affairs Canada said in an emailed statement to Granthshala News on Sunday, “It is also of primary importance to obtain clemency for Xu Weihong, Ye Jianhui, and Fan Wei, for China’s efforts to implement the death penalty in these cases.” Looking at the decision.”
“Canada will continue to provide consular services to Robert Schellenberg, Xu Weihong, Ye Jianhui and Fan Wei as well as their families.”
– With files from Granthshala News’ Saba Aziz and Aaron D’Andrea, as well as the Canadian Press, Associated Press and Reuters.