China sees 30% drop in death penalty

Updated: 2008-05-10 08:46

DALIAN - Chinese courts handed down about 30 percent fewer death penalties last year compared with 2006, sources from a forum revealed on Friday.

On January 1, 2007 China's Supreme People's Court took back the power of death penalty review. The effect is a stricter and more appropriate application of capital punishment, said Li Wuqing, a judge with the No. 1 criminal court of the supreme court.

Wu Sheng, a judge from a court in Liaocheng City, Shandong Province, said at the forum that the number of approved death penalties decreased by up to 40 percent last year in that city.

The right to issue death sentences was given to provincial courts in 1983 to deal with a sudden surge in crime.

Since the application of the ultimate penalty came back to the hands of the central authorities, many people are hoping it will be used more sparingly, implemented more cautiously, and handed down more evenly.

According to the new practice, all death penalties pronounced by local courts must be reviewed and ratified by the Supreme People's Court. Each death sentence must be reviewed by three judges, who are required to check facts, laws and criminal procedures and precedent.

Legal experts, researchers and judges from China and Britain participated in the forum held in this port city of Liaoning Province, northeast China with a focus on restriction and abolition of the death penalty.

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