CHINA HALVES EXECUTIONS TO 4,000 PER YEAR, RIGHTS GROUP SAYS
|A woman is shown being taken to her execution in Beijing, China, in 2001
December 13, 2011: Executions in China have dropped 50 per cent since 2007 to around 4,000 per year, a human rights group estimated.
The number of executions is a state secret in China, but the US-based Dui Hua Foundation based its number on a Chinese lawyer's estimate that executions had halved since the Supreme People's Court began reviewing all death sentences in 2007.
'China has made dramatic progress in reducing the number of executions, but the number is still far too high and declining far too slowly,' said John Kamm, Dui Hua's executive director.
Lawyer Liu Renwen told a forum on the death penalty on November 30 that China had reduced the number of executions by half over the past four years.
State media quoted Liu as saying in 2006 that an estimate of about 8,000 executions annually was 'realistic.' Dui Hua said it had made a similar estimate in 2006.
Liu said that China had probably executed more than 10,000 people annually before 1997, when it abolished capital punishment for theft.
Although the government removed capital punishment for 13 offences in February, China retains the death penalty for 55 crimes.
'At the present rate of decline it will take many years for the government to reach its goal of abolishing the death penalty,' Kamm said, urging the government to move towards 'greater openness and transparency.'
'When officials and the public know the full extent of the death penalty in China, abolition will be achieved more quickly,' he said.
Many of those sentenced to death have no defence lawyers during their trials.
State media and rights lawyers have reported several claims by people sentenced to death that they were tortured during interrogation, although the Supreme People's Court last year ordered courts not to accept forced confessions. (Sources: DPA, 13/12/2011)