China to reduce death sentence offence-list

July 24th, 2010 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 24 (IANS) Chinese legislators are considering reducing the list of offences that carry capital punishment under the country’s law, media reports said Saturday.
A draft revision of criminal law will be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in August, China Daily reported quoting a source with the NPC, the country’s top legislature.

The revision aims to cut the number of crimes applicable for the death sentence from 68. It will also seek to forbid execution for elderly convicts aged 70 or above, the daily said citing a media report.

“In line with international practice, having so many crimes that could receive a maximum punishment of death is unnecessary,” Chu Huaizhi, a professor on criminal law with Peking University, told Southern Weekly. “It may not be helpful in preventing crimes.”

He also attended a meeting organised by the legislative affairs committee of the NPC this month to solicit suggestions on the revision.

Gao Mingxuan, who teaches criminal law at Renmin University of China, said it is better to first reduce the use of death penalty for non-violent crimes, as it will take a long time for the country to abolish capital punishment.

“Abolition of capital punishment or limiting its application in non-violent crimes is an irresistible trend,” said Liu.

In China, majority of executions are for murder, robbery, intentional injury and drug trafficking, although corruption also carries the punishment.

Of the 68 crimes listed, 44 do not involve violence, yet “it is not practical to abolish execution for all 44, as corruption is widely seen in China and brings severe social impact”, Liu said, however, “a limit should be set”.

As per the existing criminal law that was last revised in 1997, those convicted of taking bribes of 100,000 yuan ($14,000) or more can be sentenced to death. The longest jail term in China is 20 years.

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