China Power

Capital Crimes in China

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China Power

Capital Crimes in China

China uses the death penalty more than any other country. But are there signs of change?

What do China, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States all have in common? Each executed at least 50 people last year, according to Amnesty International.

To be fair to the other three countries, China is far, far ahead of this pack of dubious distinction, (and to be particularly fair to the United States it is at least able—or willing—to provide a precise number) with thousands believed to have been put to death in 2009. Indeed, according to Amnesty, China executed more people than the rest of the world combined.

Last year’s annual report on the country estimated:

‘A minimum of 7000 death sentences were handed down and 1,700 executions took place. However, the authorities refused to make public national statistics on death sentences and executions and the real figure is undoubtedly higher.’

In a way this is all hardly surprising given the breadth of crimes that carry a capital sentence—anything from poaching through embezzlement, murder and terrorism.

But some of this could be about to change, according to news reports, with Chinese officials apparently considering cutting the number of offences that attract the death penalty from the current 68.

And, according to China Radio International, a draft amendment to the criminal law would also bar executions of senior citizens (although it is reportedly unclear if the age cap will be set at 70 or 75).

It’s a step in the right direction, at least…