Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Monday, November 26, 2007

Will death penalty review overwhelm the Supreme People's Court?

The Dui Hua Foundation has published a translation of a very interesting article with the above title.

Here's their introduction:

The following opinion piece, which appeared on November 21, 2007 in The Beijing News (新京报, Chinese original in PDF) and was then translated by Dui Hua, raises concerns about the future of China’s Supreme People’s Court. Faced with an "extremely large number" of death sentences to review, the SPC has been forced to take on hundreds of new criminal court judges, many of whom have lower qualifications than judges in the past. The author suggests this influx of less-qualified judges who focus on reviewing individual capital cases presents an obstacle to the SPC’s progress toward a more ideal goal, one in which high-court decisions contribute to the nation’s social and economic development. At stake, he warns, is the court's ultimate ability to ensure judicial authority.

It’s unclear how much consideration the author (who is very likely writing under a pseudonym) has given to the most obvious solution: a substantial reduction in the application of the death penalty in China. If, as he argues, the burdens of death-penalty review are hindering the efficiency of China’s legal institutions, this could be yet another argument in favor of further reducing the use of capital punishment.

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