Followers of China Law & Policy will remember the October story of Akmal Shaikh, a mentally ill British man convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to death in China. His case, which has garnered a lot of attention in his home country of Great Britain but little else where, demonstrates the difficulties that most criminal justice systems face when dealing with the mentally ill. However, in China, because procedures have yet to be put in place to protect the mentally ill, the situation is particularly distressing.
Mr. Shaikh’s case is still in the hands of China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC), China’s highest court. As of today, the SPC still has not issued a decision. In our piece from October, we called on the SPC to use this case as an opportunity to flesh out procedures to protect the mentally ill, protections that are normatively found in China’s current criminal law.
On Friday, the Global Time’s English edition published an interesting article stating that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown contacted Premier Wen Jiabao requesting that “mental health considerations” be properly considered in dealing with Mr. Shaikh’s case. The Global Times did not have to publish this two-paragraph story. Does the fact that it did mean that it will permit Mr. Shaikh to finally undergo a psychological exam and give its courts a face-saving way to repeal Mr. Shaikh’s death sentence? Time will tell. We will keep you informed if any new information about Mr. Shaikh’s case becomes public.