China Criminal Law draft amendment unchanged in reducing number of crimes subject to death penalty

08:31, December 21, 2010      

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A draft amendment to China's Criminal Law remained unchanged in reducing the number of crimes subject to the death penalty.

The draft amendment was submitted Monday to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, for its second reading.

In August this year, the NPC Standing Committee discussed the draft amendment during its first reading. The draft amendment will make 13 crimes exempt from capital punishment, if it becomes law.

The crimes included: smuggling cultural relics, gold, silver, and other precious metals and rare animals and their products out of the country; carrying out fraudulent activities with financial bills; carrying out fraudulent activities with letters of credit; the false issuance of exclusive value-added tax invoices to defraud export tax refunds or to offset taxes; the forging or selling of forged exclusive value-added tax invoices; the teaching of crime-committing methods; and robbing ancient cultural ruins.

During the process of the NPC Standing Committee's discussion, when the draft amendment was released for public submissions, some people suggested some of the 13 crimes be given death penalty while others thought that more crimes should be exempt from capital punishment.

If the amendment becomes law, it will be the first time the number of crimes subject to the death penalty has been reduced since the People's Republic of China enacted its criminal law in 1979. It will also be a move by China to limit the use of the death penalty, after the Supreme People's Court in 2007 began to review and approve all death penalty decisions.

The current law allows the death penalty for 68 crimes. The draft amendment, if passed, will reduce that number to 55.

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