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AI: Proposed China death penalty reforms may have no great impact on executions

Amnesty International warned today that proposed reforms of China’s applicationof the death penalty may not result in significantly fewer executions.

Chinese government news agency Xinhua reported today that proposed amendmentsto China’s criminal code may see the death penalty removed from 13 outof 68 crimes that currently carry the punishment.  The draft amendmentsare working their way through numerous readings in China’s legislativechamber.

“Although we would welcome any reform that would in practice decreaseexecutions in China, we are not yet convinced that these legal revisionswill have a significant impact” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’sDeputy-Director for the Asia-Pacific.

As part of its campaigning against the death penalty, Amnesty Internationalhas called on China to reduce the number of capital crimes.

“We are still waiting for the Chinese government to release the data thatshows these proposed revisions are more than just legal housekeeping, removingcrimes which have seldom been punished with the death penalty in recentyears” said Catherine Baber.

The draft amendment to China’s criminal code would, if passed, reportedlyremove the death penalty as a punishment for white collar crimes such astax fraud, and for smuggling valuables and cultural relics.  It wouldalso remove the death penalty as a punishment for those over 75 years ofage.

The ultimate impact of any reforms to China's use of the death penaltycannot be publicly known and evaluated due to classification of executionfigures as state secrets.

Amnesty International is calling on the Chinese government to make thedraft legislation and the national execution figures public, so that therecan be transparent analysis and debate on the death penalty.

In a challenge to China’s lack of transparency, Amnesty Internationaldeclined to publish its own minimum figures for Chinese executions anddeath sentences in its worldwide annual report this year on the death penalty.China is estimated to be the world’s biggest executor.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception,as the ultimate violation of human rights.  


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For more informationplease call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +4420 7413 5566 or email:

International Secretariat,Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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