BEIJING, CHINA: The Chinese Government on Friday exempted 13 crimes from death penalty punishment, leaving the number of crimes punishable by death at 55, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) approved an amendment to the Criminal Law marking the first time that the crimes punishable with death penalty have been reduced since 1979.
The 13 crimes exempted included smuggling cultural relics, precious metals and rare animals 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; the forging or selling of forged exclusive value-added tax invoices; the teaching of crime methods; and robbing ancient cultural ruins.
The amendment was a move of the Chinese government to reduce death penalty following a 2007 decision hat all verdicts involving the capital punishment should be reviewed and approved by the Supreme People's Court (SPC).
According to the SPC, ten percent of death sentences have been overturned in Chine since 2007. Chinese experts said that the final goal should be abolishing death penalty as punishment.
According to the amendment, harsher punishments will be imposed on crime gang heads, wage defaulters, offenders in food safety crimes and those convicted of forcefully removing human organs instead of death penalty.
In addition, serious felonies will now carry longer minimum jail terms. Felons sentenced to life imprisonment will serve a minimum of 13 years, not 10 years as before, while those sentenced to death penalty must serve at least 20 years, instead of 12 years.
"The move can be regarded as an effort to respect life and protect human rights," said Prof. Liu Mingxiang, deputy dean of the Law School, Renmin University of China. "To reduce the death penalty step by step is a good method for China."
(BNO NEWS )