[JURIST] Chinese state media reported Tuesday that Beijing is ready to switch from gunshot executions [China Daily report] of condemned prisoners to lethal injections [JURIST news archive]. A spokesperson for the Supreme People's Court (SPC) [official website, in Chinese] said that lethal injection is "cleaner, safer, and more convenient." China Daily reports that a facility has been prepared and that judicial police and medical staff will soon be trained to administer the procedure. Beijing expects to transition fully to lethal injections by the end of the year, but the transition will take longer in other parts of the country. Lethal injections have been permitted in China since 1997, but have rarely been used before now.
The SPC announced plans to phase out gunshot executions [JURIST report] and switch to lethal injections in January 2008. China executes more prisoners than any other country. In March, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported that China conducted 1,718 executions [JURIST report], or 72 percent of executions worldwide, in 2008. Although an SPC spokesperson said in 2007 that death sentences in China had hit a 10-year low [JURIST report] in 2006, AI reported [press release] in April 2007 that China continued 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.