[JURIST] China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) [official website] Thursday announced plans to phase out gunshot executions of condemned prisoners and instead switch to lethal injections [JURIST news archive]. Court vice-president Jiang Xingchang [official profile] said that lethal injection was a more humane execution method already used by half of China's intermediate courts. He said that the SPC will work to train court officials and provide facilities for lethal injections, but did not give a timetable for completely replacing gunshot executions. Gunshot executions are generally accomplished by a single shot to the back of the head. AFP has more. China Daily has local coverage.
Although Xingchang has said that death sentences in China hit a ten-year low [JURIST report] in 2006, Amnesty International reported [press release] in April 2007 that China continues to lead the world in executions, with 7,000 to 8,000 people believed to have been executed in 2006. In response to wrongful convictions and international criticism, China implemented reforms at the beginning of 2007 requiring that all death sentences be approved [JURIST reports] by the SPC.