government: Communist state
state of civil and political rights: Not free
constitution: last promulgated on December 4, 1982
legal system: based on civil law system; derived from Soviet and continental civil code legal principles
legislative system: unicameral National People's Congress (Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui)
judicial system: Supreme People's Court, judges appointed by the National People's Congress; Local People's Courts; Special People's Courts.
religion: Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%
note: officially atheist
methods of execution:
year of last executions: 0-0-0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed only)
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
a conference held on 15-16 December in Beijing discussed a range of measures aimed at significantly reducing the use of capital punishment in China. The seminar, which was part of a major project entitled “Judicial Restraints on Application of the Death Penalty in China”, under the auspices of the College for Criminal Law Science of Beijing Normal University, was attended by some of the most senior academics in the country in the field of criminal justice, judges from courts around the country and other professionals from the criminal justice system.
“Although the purpose of the project is not to campaign for abolition of the death penalty, many speakers made the point that this is the ultimate objective and that judicial restraint is one means of achieving it,” wrote on his blog William A. Schabas, Professor of international law at Middlesex University in London, who was the only non-Chinese participant in the meeting.
Speakers also expressed the need to have more precise information about the use of capital punishment, which remains an official secret in China. “However, after this meeting and many other encounters with experts in the Chinese criminal justice system, I feel confident in making a few very educated guesses,” Professor Schabas said. “In the past year, China has probably executed about 3,000 people. This represents a decline of more than 50% from the number only five years ago,” he noted, adding that, “The vast majority of these executions are for homicide in one form or another, although China also uses the death penalty for a range of non-violent crimes including drug trafficking and corruption.”