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China to decrease number of executions but keep death penalty

[JURIST] China plans to gradually lessen the number of executions it carries out while still keeping the death penalty [JURIST news archive], according to a statement released Sunday by China's Supreme People's Court, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Security [official websites], and China's lead prosecutor. The statement indicated that China cannot entirely abolish the death penalty, but noted that if the possibility exists that a convicted individual did not commit the crime, then that person should not be executed. The legal groups also condemned confessions through torture [JURIST report] and said police must instead gather evidence according to the law.

China, which executes more prisoners than any other country [JURIST report] in the world, revised its death penalty laws [JURIST report] last year, mandating the Supreme People's Court to review any death sentences handed down. The country has been under pressure to take a closer look at its policies after China's deputy chief prosecutor revealed that almost every wrongful conviction in recent years has been the result of torture [JURIST report] and intensive interrogation techniques. AP has more. Xinhua has local coverage.

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