[JURIST] The Chinese government said Thursday that it will make court proceedings on death penalty appeals open to the public to "improve human rights protection" following a notice [press release, in Chinese] from the Supreme Court of China [official website, in Chinese]. On January 1, the public will have access to death sentence cases involving "major controversy," and on July 1, the public will be allowed to attend all death sentence appeals. The new regulation is being implemented in an effort to prevent wrongful death sentences, which human rights groups have continually criticized in China [JURIST news archive]. The rights groups call China's use of the death penalty "arbitrary" and claim the country carried out 3,400 executions in 2004 alone, making up almost 90 percent of the world's total. Earlier this year, the Chinese high court removed the lower courts' authority to review death sentences [JURIST report]. AP has more.