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28 Luglio 2010 | CINA

China

Presto potrebbero essere ridotti i crimini per cui è prevista la pena capitale e potrebbero essere escluse le esecuzioni per gli ultrasettantenni.

 
versione stampabile

Xinhua

China aims to cut back the number of crimes that carry the death penalty, and may also end executions of convicted criminals over 70 years old, the official China Daily reported.

A draft revision of the country's Criminal Law, which would limit use of capital punishment, will be submitted to the standing committee of China's rubber-stamp parliament in late August, the paper reported at the weekend, citing a source from the legislature.

The change would be the 1st reduction in the number of crimes carrying the death penalty since the law was enacted in 1979, the Southern Weekend paper said in an earlier report on the potential change.

Rights groups regularly criticise China for its high execution rate, secrecy about its use of the punishment, and range of crimes which carry the death penalty.

Amnesty International said in a report issued in March that it estimates China executed thousands of people last year, more than the rest of the world combined.

Capital punishment currently applies to 68 offences, of which 44 are not violent, the China Daily said.

Technically it can be handed down for corruption cases where defendants have taken a bribe of 100,000 yuan ($14,750) or more, the paper said, although in practice it is used only in cases involving much larger sums.

But the lack of applicable guidelines means there is unfair variation in sentencing, the paper quoted a constitutional studies expert at Shanghai's Jiaotong University as saying.

"Someone could be sentenced to death for an amount that is far less than in a case where the suspect is sentenced to life in prison," Tong Zhiwei said.

"JUSTICE WITH MERCY"

In January 2007, the Supreme People's Court regained the power of final approval of death penalties, devolved to provincial high courts in the 1980s, and it promised to apply the ultimate punishment more carefully.

In February the court urged China's judges to limit the use of death penalty to those convicted of the most serious crimes, under a policy of "justice tempered with mercy".

The rules also call for courts to offer reprieves where allowed by law. When Chinese courts mete out death sentences with a reprieve, they are usually commuted later to life in jail.

These account for around 10 % of all death sentences handed down, the China Daily said.

But execution for white collar crimes is unlikely to end.

"It is not practical to abolish execution for all 44, as corruption is widely seen in China and brings severe social impact", said Liu Renwen, a researcher at the institute of law under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"A limit should be set," he told the paper.

The high rate of executions was thrown into the international spotlight at the end of last year when a British citizen caught smuggling heroin was put to death, despite pleas for clemency from Britain and his family, who said he was mentally unsound.

 

IANS

China to reduce death sentence offence-list

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.

 

Agence France-Presse

China to reduce number of capital crimes: state media

China will reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty from the current 68 in the latest step to cut back on the use of capital punishment, state media said Saturday.

The nation's top legislative committee will begin revising China's criminal law in August to reduce the number of capital crimes, the China Daily reported, quoting a legislative source.

The report did not say how many crimes would be subject to capital punishment after the revision or which offences would be removed from the current list.

China is widely believed to carry out more executions that the rest of the world combined, but the actual figure remains a state secret.

Amnesty International, in a report earlier this year, said the number was "believed to be in the thousands," compared to 2009's 2nd-ranked executioner Iran, which the rights group said carried out at least 388 last year.

Most executions in China are carried out for violent crimes such as murder, robbery, but also for drug trafficking, the China Daily said. However, corruption cases also carry the death penalty.

But of the 68 capital crimes in China, 44 do not involve violent acts, it said.

The report said the law revision also could forbid the death penalty against convicts aged 70 years or more. It gave no other details on the planned revision.

China has taken measures in recent years to rein in use of capital punishment, including requiring the country's supreme court to review all such sentences before they are carried out.

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