October 27, 2005

You are on the invidual archive page of China death penalty reforms. Click Simon World weblog for the main page.
China death penalty reforms

China has long been the capital punishment capital of the world. But it seems years of pressure has brought about modest change. The Supreme People's Court is re-asserting control over meting out capital punishment. The Xinhua article makes interesting and disturbing reading:

The Supreme Court will no longer permit provincial courts to review death sentences so as to ensure that capital punishment is meted out meticulously and fairly, Chief Justice Xiao Yang, also president of the Supreme People's Court, said Tuesday...China still practices capital punishment as a deterrent to preserve social stability, but "as few executions as possible should be carried out and as cautiously as possible, in order to avoid wrongful executions," the top judge said...

According to the law, executions must be approved by the Supreme Court before being carried out. However, to facilitate swift punishment for criminals captured during the country's 1983 "Strike Hard" anti-crime drives, an exception was made so that violent felons like murderers could be put to death with the approval merely of provincial-level "higher people's courts."

Since 2003, the Supreme Court has rejected 7.21 percent of the death sentences, ordering a retrial for lack of sufficient evidence, and changed 22.03 percent of the death verdicts to deathwith reprieval or life imprisonment, said Xiao, without giving the exact number of such sentences.

Meanwhile, provincial courts have thrown out 4.44 percent of death sentence verdicts for lack of sufficient evidence, and revised 38.14 percent of the verdicts to lesser punishments, he said. But several wrongful death sentences exposed this year has prompted legal professionals to think twice about the death penalty system. Many of them are calling for the Supreme Court to rescind provincial tribunals' right of review. A man convicted of murdering his wife in Hubei Province was very lucky when his "dead" wife emerged. The case prompted a national uproar...

Liu Zuoxiang, an professor with the Law Institute of China Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua the major problem with thereviewing system is that different provincial courts have different criteria on what kind of felons should be executed, which is not good for the human rights of the convicted.

While these changes are welcome, the implications are staggering. First and foremost, the implication is there have been potentially many executions in the past that were unjustified. Secondly, the rush to execution of violent criminals has meant the law has been flouted since 1983. So this measure can be seen as a re-assertion of rule of law in China. Or it could be seen as wayward provincial courts being smacked down by the Supreme Court.

Either way, it's a positive step forward. It's a shame so many have had to die to get there.

posted by Simon on 10.27.05 at 09:45 AM in the China law category.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Send a manual trackback ping to this post.

Death Penalty in China
Weblog: Treehouse Cityguide
Tracked: February 28, 2006 10:22 PM

Genickschuss für die Armen, Giftspritze für die Reichen - Über die Todesstrafe in China
Excerpt: Bei den Themen aus China, die auch in Deutschland immer wieder diskutiert werden, ist die Todesstrafe ein Dauerbrenner. Zur Einführung ein Ausschnitt aus dem “Länderkurzbericht China, Hongkong und Macau” von amnesty international ...
Weblog: B.L.O.G. - Bissige Liberale ohne Gnade
Tracked: March 17, 2006 04:48 AM


Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?