China mulls replacing bullets with lethal injections

June 16th, 2009 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, June 16 (IANS) By the end of this year, all criminals who have been sentenced to death here will get a lethal injection instead of bullets as authorities in China have decided to gradually phase out firing squads across the country.

Lethal injections were “cleaner, safer and more convenient”, the director of China’s Supreme People’s Court, Hu Yunteng, was quoted as saying by China Daily Tuesday.

According to the report, a special site has been built near the city’s Dougezhuang detention house, which houses the majority of the city’s condemned, where the convicted criminals will be given the lethal injection.

The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court has already made preparations for the change, including allocation of staff and boosting technical capacity.

It will soon start training judicial police, who will deliver the prisoners and administer the injections, and also medical staff who will supervise the use of the drugs as well as monitor and confirm the deaths, the official said.

“Lethal injection will be used in all intermediate people’s courts, though such a procedure is not possible in the short term because of the high costs of input and enforcement,” Hu said.

“As lethal injection is the most popular method for execution adopted by countries with capital punishment, China will follow suit. It is considered more humane as it reduces criminals’ fear and pain compared with gunshot execution,” he added.

Lethal injection, which kills people within a few minutes and without much pain compared to other forms of execution, was legalised in China in 1997, and was first used in southwestern Yunnan region the next year, the China Daily said.

Though Beijing began using the method in 2000, it is still rare, the report said.

China has been criticised by international rights groups, including Amnesty International, for its poor human rights record. According to reports, at least 7,000 people have been sentenced to death and 1,718 executed last year.

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