January 6, 2006
China Reforms Death Penalty Procedures
From the DPIC: "Amidst widespread suspicion that innocent people have been sentenced to death or executed, China has announced that reforming its death penalty system is a priority and it is implementing procedural changes to protect against wrongful convictions. In October 2005, the People's Supreme Court announced that it would reverse a decision from the early 1980's that gave final review on many death penalty cases to provincial high courts. Under the new policy, the People's Supreme Court would reclaim responsibility for reviewing all capital cases. Some observers predict that the People's Supreme Court will find deep flaws within the current death penalty system and that their review of cases could result in a dramatic 30% decline in executions. Critics of the reforms claim that the changes do not go far enough to restrict the power of police and the courts. Though the exact number of annual executions in China remains unknown, a high-level delegate to the National People's Congress publicly estimated in 2005 that it was "nearly 10,000." In 2004, Amnesty International documented 3,400 executions in China, but noted that the actual number was probably far higher. (New York Times, December 31, 2005).
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