mark swidan is a US citizen sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking. His case revived the debate on capital punishment, which in the United States and the West in general only seems to be questioned when it is applied by a power or enemy country. The State Department reported last week that a Chinese court in Jiangmen had rejected an appeal, despite the fact that the sentence would be suspended for the next two years.
While official statistics from Beijing on the matter are unknown, the United States is practically divided because the death penalty it remains in effect in 24 of its 50 states. the republican senator ted crossa tough among the tough, presented at the beginning of 2023 with his colleague john cornyn a resolution to have Swidan released. But the newspaper library reveals it because, when he was Texas attorney general in 2007, he refused to review the situation of the Mexican Jose Medellinwho was executed on August 6, 2008.
That decision complicated diplomatic relations with Mexico, which has the highest number of death sentences among foreign residents in the US. To date, there are 47 detainees in this condition out of a total of 131 who are awaiting the maximum sentence, according to statistics from the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) based in Washington. Among them there is also an Argentine: Victor Hugo Saldanoconvicted on July 11, 1996 by a Texas court and who has already spent more than half of his life on death row.
The Swidan case
The US often uses the word “hostage” to refer to many of its citizens detained in other nations
The Swidan case became another issue of conflict in the deteriorated bilateral relationship with the Asian country. The United States often uses the word “hostage” to refer to many of its citizens held in other nations on various charges. It was no exception with this executive from houston (Texas), arrested in 2012 when accused of drug trafficking and whose death sentence was unsuccessfully appealed.
Deputy State Department Spokesperson, Vedant Patelstated that the Government of Joe Biden he was “disappointed by this decision and will continue to press for their immediate release and return to the country.” Katherine, the businessman’s mother, had complained earlier this year about her son’s situation: “I refuse to accept that the most powerful country on Earth cannot bring Mark home.” She said it herself on the eve of the Secretary of State’s trip to Beijing, Anthony Blinkenwhich was suspended when the bilateral tension worsened because alleged chinese spy balloons on US territory.
The Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court rejected Swidan’s appeal on Thursday of last week. A case that Senator Cruz complained about earlier this year. The Republican who raised his voice against China is the same one who ignored the elemental right of the executed José Medellín to find out that he could receive assistance from his consulate officials after being arrested. At that time (2007-2008) there were 51 Mexicans on death row.
That double standard to judge those convicted according to their nationality is now in evidence with the Swidan case. Cruz went further when he was a prosecutor: he ignored a decision of the International Court of Justice of United Nations before Medellín was killed with a lethal injection. In turn, he questioned the then US president, George W. Bushbecause according to him “he overstepped” by ordering the Texas Court to review the sentence.
Countries that apply the death penalty
The United States ranks eighth in death penalty executions
According to the ranking of countries that applied the death penalty in 2021 – the latest validated statistics are from that year – the United States ranks eighth in executions and is the first and only West in the top ten. Iran was blamed for 314 cases, Egypt for 83, Saudi Arabia for 65, Syria for 24, Somalia for 21, Iraq for 17, Yemen for 14, the United States for 11, South Sudan for nine and Bangladesh for five.
Last year, according to an article in the CNN published by Jennifer Hansler, the families of Americans detained abroad asked President Biden for help to obtain the release of their relatives. Several people would be returned to the country some time later. The most notorious cases have been that of the basketball player Brittney Griner imprisoned in Russia that was exchanged for a Russian arms dealer detained in the United States and that of the ex-marine Matthew Heath, arrested in Venezuela in 2020 on terrorism charges. Today a campaign to obtain the freedom of the detainees that is called Bring our Families Home (Take our Families Home).
Biden thinks that the American citizen is assisted by a differential right over the rest of the world’s inhabitants. “This summer I signed an executive order – he said in a statement – that will impose new costs, including sanctions and visa bans, against the perpetrators of such acts (for detentions that the US considers arbitrary). In addition, the State Department has introduced a new warning indicator D. which is designed to help Americans understand where and when travel may incur greater risks of wrongful detention, potentially for long periods of time,” the US president said.