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China to reform, not eliminate death penalty

[JURIST] After questioning the rationale [China Daily report] for continued use of capital punishment earlier this year, China has decided to reform but not eliminate the death penalty. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao announced the reforms Monday [IANS report], which some experts believe could lower the number of executions in the country by 30%. Under Chinese law 68 crimes can merit the death penalty, including non-violent offenses such as bigamy, bribery, financial fraud and cyber crimes; the Australian Coalition Against the Death Penalty has more details [backgrounder]. According to Amnesty International [AI factsheet], 84% of all state-sanctioned executions in the world take place in China and the rights of defendants are routinely violated. Chinese experts had called for a "kill fewer, kill carefully" policy towards suspects of non-violent crimes, state media [China Daily report] said in August. JURIST reported last week that China's Chief Justice, Xiao Yang, had suggested that reforms were on the way.

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