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China's policy is to preserve death penalty
Updated: 2006-03-12 16:33

China's top judge Xiao Yang on Sunday ruled out the possibility of abolishing death penalty in the country, but stressed the necessity to apply death sentences in a more prudent and cautious manner.

"China's current policy regarding death penalty is to preserve it but use it cautiously," said Xiao, president of the Supreme People's Court, while joining a panel discussion of lawmakers from North China's Shanxi Province on Sunday.

The lawmakers, or deputies to the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), the Chinese legislature in its annual full session here, were discussing a report on the work of the supreme court over the past year delivered by Xiao on Saturday.

"There is no stipulation on doing away with death penalty in China's existing laws, and there has been no decision on whether death penalty will no longer be applicable to certain kinds of crimes," said the chief justice, obviously in response to earlier media reports of a lawmaker's proposal to amend the Criminal Law and exempt certain crimes from death penalty application.

Jiang Bixin, an NPC deputy from Central China's Hunan Province and also president of the Higher People's Court of Hunan Province, reportedly submitted a motion to the ongoing NPC session, suggesting that death penalty be gradually phased out in sentences on economic crimes such as embezzlement and accepting bribes.

"We must continue to follow the policy of being both strict and lenient according to the actual situation of the cases, and show leniency to the convicts who only committed minor offenses or merited milder punishment and even exemption of punishment," Xiao told the deputies.

He added that since the right to live is the "most important human right," the supreme court will continue to improve the existing procedures for the second instance trials and the examination and approval of cases involving death sentences.

The Chinese supreme court has announced its plan to take back the power to examine and approve death sentences from the hands of local higher courts, but so far no timetable has been given.

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