CHINA: AMENDMENT TO LIMIT USE OF DEATH PENALTY
March 8, 2012: a draft amendment to the nation's Criminal Procedure Law was submitted to the ongoing 5th session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) for third reading, further specifying the procedures for the Supreme People's Court to review death penalty cases in order that such cases will be handled "with sufficient care" and "legal oversight" will be strengthened.
According to the draft, the supreme court shall issue an order approving or disapproving a death sentence after reviewing it. If the supreme court overrules the death sentence, it may remand the case for retrial or revise the judgment thereof.
Besides, during the reviewing proceedings, the supreme court may question the defendant and the defense attorney's opinions shall be heard if he so requests, according to the amendment.
Under the current law, all death sentences should be submitted to the supreme court for review.
In the view of Liu Hao, a Beijing-based lawyer, the current procedure of reviewing death penalty sentences by the supreme court is not transparent enough, and does not live up to a legal proceeding in the real sense. "The proposed revisions will improve the procedure and guarantee the legal oversight necessary before taking somebody's life," he said.
China's current Criminal Procedure Law was enacted in 1979 and amended in 1996. The current revision was submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for first reading in August 2011 and for second reading in December 2011. (Sources: Xinhua, 08/03/2012)