China may eliminate the death penalty for some crimes

originally published by: Los Angeles Times
25th August 2010

Panda smuggling and grave robbing are among the death penalty offenses up for review. But the revisions aren’t expected to lower the world’s highest execution rate.

Grave robbers and panda smugglers would no longer face the death penalty under criminal code changes being weighed by China, home to the world’s most active executioners.

A committee of the National People’s Congress this week opened discussions on eliminating the death penalty as punishment for 13 crimes, including the smuggling of silver and gold, receipt fraud, tax cheating and the theft of fossils. Grave robbery and rare-animal smuggling are also among the crimes being considered for lighter sentences.

Although Chinese law guards information about executions as state secrets, the country is widely believed to put to death thousands of people every year. Even at conservative estimates, the annual toll of Chinese executions is higher than that of the rest of the world’s governments combined, Amnesty International reported this year.

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