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China vows to observe more stringent judicial procedures for death penalty

(Xinhua)

16:10, June 11, 2012

BEIJING, June 11 (Xinhua) -- China will improve the trial procedures and reviews of death penalty cases, a government action plan released on Monday said.

The National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-2015) published by China's State Council Information Office (SCIO) said that the trial of all death penalty cases of second instance will be open to the public.

The review of death penalty should include the questioning of the defendant, and listening to the opinions of his or her attorney if the attorney so demands, the action plan said.

Legal supervision by the Supreme People's Procuratorate over the review of death penalty will be strengthened, the plan said, adding that the Supreme People's Court will publicize typical cases to clarify the norms of application of death penalty.

The action plan said China will continue to push forward standardized measurement of penalty, and the people's procuratorates will make suggestions on penalty measurement to the people's courts when handling criminal cases.

The discretion in penalty measurement will be institutionalized. Guidelines on penalty measurement by the people's courts will be worked out, so will regulations of the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security on standardizing procedures of penalty measurement to guarantee openness and fairness in penalty measurement, it said.

China will further improve the system to have witnesses and expert witnesses appear in court and the system of protecting the witnesses, and improve the system of eliminating illegal evidence, the plan said.

All confessions by suspects and defendants extorted by torture or other illegal methods, as well as testimonies and statements of witnesses or victims collected by violence, threat or other illegal means will be eliminated and not used in working out the verdict, it said.

In addition, the stipulations on evidences used to examine and decide cases of death penalty will be strictly observed, and more strict standards will be adopted in this regard, it said.

The action plan also pledged to implement the Decisions of the Supreme People's Court on Audio-Visual Recordings of Court Trials, and the system of producing audio-visual recordings of the whole process of suspect interrogating in major cases will be established.

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