China on Wednesday defended a court ruling to impose the death penalty against a Canadian who has been convicted of smuggling drugs. The strong defence by the Chinese Foreign Ministry came in the wake of criticism from the UN and some countries on the imposition of the death sentence on Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, for a drug trafficking crime, Efe news reported.
"If the imposition of death penalty on Schellenberg is inhuman and inappropriate, (then) they don't think that people killed by these drugs is inhuman? We won't allow drugs to danger Chinese people lives," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters. Schellenberg was sentenced to death for allegedly attempting to smuggle 222 kg of amphetamine hidden in car tyres from China to Australia. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that the sentencing was done "arbitrarily".
He discussed the issue with other world leaders, including Argentinian President Mauricio Macri and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Arden. Australia also expressed concerns over the death sentencing in this case. Hua said China was "not concerned" about the criticism, adding that a few countries "couldn't represent the whole international community." "We have made clear the facts and the nature of this case. You know that drug crime is a grave crime recognized by the international community," said Hua.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday hoped that China would review the sentencing. UN Human Rights spokesperson said the death penalty should be used in cases of intentional killing and not in crimes like drug smuggling. Schellenberg's case was the latest in the tensions between Beijing and Ottawa, which surfaced after Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the behest of the US. Meng is currently out on bail. Days after Meng's arrest, China detained two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, on charges of allegedly endangering the country's national security. The two continue to be in prison.
(With inputs from agencies.)