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China mulls scrapping death penalty for nine crimes

China, accused by rights groups of carrying out world’s largest number of executions every year, now plans to cut down death penalty for nine crimes including smuggling weapons and nuclear materials.

The draft amendment to the Criminal Law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the Chinese Parliament, on Monday for the first reading during the legislature’s bi-monthly session, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The nine crimes include smuggling weapons, ammunition, nuclear materials or counterfeit currencies, counterfeiting currencies, raising funds by means of fraud, arranging for or forcing another person to engage in prostitution, obstructing a commander or a person on duty from performing his duties, fabricating rumours to mislead others during wartime were excluded from death penalty in the draft bill.

The move came after a report by US-based rights group Dui Hua estimated that approximately 2,400 people in China were executed in 2013.

The figure was a fall of 20 per cent from 2012, the Foundation said, and a fraction of the 12,000 in 2002. China never releases figures for the number of citizens it executes annually.

Observers say the executions are coming coming down because all death sentences now have to go to the Supreme People’s Court for review.

China has earlier excluded economic offences. Dui Hua said there was unlikely to be a dramatic decline in numbers in 2014 because of the use of capital punishment in anti-terrorism campaigns in Xinjiang and the anti-corruption campaign nationwide.

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