CHINA MULLS TRIMMING DEATH PENALTY CRIMES
March 9, 2014: speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress (NPC) session, Zang Tiewei, deputy director of the NPC Standing Committee's Commission for Legislative Affairs, said the top legislature would try to reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty by revising the Criminal Law in 2014.
Though the death penalty is still being used, courts are required to apply it strictly and carefully, Zang Tiewei said, adding that capital punishment should be applied only for extremely serious crimes.
Deng Hui, an NPC deputy, suggested abolishing the death penalty for economic crimes. ‚ÄúEconomic crimes are different from violent ones. Violence poses more danger to people‚Äôs lives, but most economic offenses are violations against property,‚ÄĚ said Deng, who is also a law specialist at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics. ‚ÄúSo we should give the two kinds of crimes different punishments.‚ÄĚ Deng said.
Wu Zongxian, a criminal law professor at Beijing Normal University, said the death penalty cannot reduce crime and its deterrence has become weak. ‚ÄúThe best punishment for economic criminals, such as swindlers, is to take away their qualifications to do business,‚ÄĚ Wu said. In addition, sentencing economic offenders to death may also affect China‚Äôs image, since such a penalty was eliminated long ago in most developed countries, he added.
Under the current law, 55 crimes are subject to the death penalty, among which one-third are economic crimes such as corruption and bribery. However, according to Han Yusheng, a criminal law professor at Renmin University of China, the plan to cut the number of charges carrying the death penalty should be handled carefully ‚Äúbecause it does not mean abolishing capital punishment‚ÄĚ. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not practical to eliminate the death penalty in our country, while the aim of lawmakers is to ask courts to reduce the application of the death penalty,‚ÄĚ Han said. (Sources: Xinhua, 09/03/2014)