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The Supreme People’s Court speaks out on reforming China’s death penalty

The top story in the Supreme People’s Court Wechat Feed of 23 November–how China should reform the use of the death penalty. Over the weekend, a conference was held by China’s Academy of Social Sciences on the death penalty, which brought in the Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and other government departments, as well as experts from Tsinghua University, China University of Political Sciences and Law, and others. Among the topics discussed was China and the world.

Hu Yunteng, head of the Court’s Research Office said that death penalty reform needs to focus on how to use legislative and judicial measures to reform the death penalty, with further work needed on the following:

  • Reducing the number of crimes that carry the death penalty.
  • Reducing the judicial use of the death penalty.
  • Amending substantive law to reduce its use.
  • Amending procedural law to control its use.
  • Adopting a hearing centered procedure in death penalty review cases.  This includes making use of the important role of lawyers in the death penalty review process and providing legal assistance to those who need it. (This development was highlighted in this blogpost).

Judge Hu stated that the death penalty will be retained, but the goal is for the death penalty to be applied 100% correctly and to avoid mistaken cases.

Foreign and international organizations have been working with Chinese counterparts on death penalty reforms for a number of years.  In China, law reform efforts may involve a long incubation period.

The world awaits the results of the hard work needed to implement these reforms.