In late August, the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee began to consider a revision to China’s Criminal Law that would significantly reduce the number of offenses eligible for the death penalty. China now allows the death penalty to be imposed for 68 crimes, 44 of which do not involve violence. Drafters of the new legislation propose removing 13 offenses from those eligible for capital punishment—a nearly 30 percent drop in the number of non-violent crimes that carry the death penalty. The proposed legislation would also prohibit the execution of offenders aged 75 or older.
A common justification for retention of capital punishment in China is the strong public support it enjoys. However, results of a recent survey designed by the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law paint a more nuanced portrait of views of Chinese citizens.
On November 5, the United States will face the first review of its human rights record under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR is a new mechanism, instituted in 2006, but UN efforts to monitor human rights date back almost as far as the institution’s founding. The charter establishing the United Nations was ratified in 1945. The following year, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) formed the UN Commission on Human Rights, the first international body mandated to investigate and report on human rights concerns worldwide.
Dui Hua’s submission focused on parole policy, immigration and customs enforcement detention, and capital punishment.
Statistics on capital punishment in China are considered state secrets. Lacking official information, international observers are left to make educated guesses about the number of executions in China. In past years, Dui Hua has based estimates of annual executions on discussions with knowledgeable sources. We have estimated that China carried out nearly 5,000 executions in 2009—a slight decrease from 2008.
Dui Hua conducts program mission in Hong Kong, Beijing; US speaking tour, UPR representation set for November; Dui Hua sees staff change; thanks to summer interns, volunteers.