China is seeking to reduce the number of people it executes.
The Supreme People's Court - the highest court in Mainland China - has ordered lower courts to suspend death sentences for two years, but only in cases that does not call for immediate execution.”
In a report, the Supreme People’s Court stated: Strictly control and unify standards relating to the death penalty, and ensure that it only applies to a very small minority of criminals committing extremely serious crimes.”
In recent years, Beijing has unveiled several measures to reduce the number of executions. Earlier this year, the government reduced the numbers of death penalty crimes by 13 down to 55 (the deleted crimes were all economic offenses, including tax fraud, the smuggling of cultural relics or precious metals, tomb robbing and stealing fossils).
In 2007, the Supreme People’s Court regained the power to review death sentence cases levied by lower courts – a step that reduced the number of executions.
In China, convicted criminals who are handed down a death penalty typically serve life in prison.
However, most executions are carried out for the most egregious criminal offenses, including aggravated murder and drug trafficking.
Although the country does not publicize the number of executions it conducts, human rights activists around the world believe China kills more convicts than any other country on earth.
Amnesty International, the London-based human rights watchdog, has estimated that China has executed untold ‘thousands” of convicts.
Amnesty has repeated demanded that the Chinese authorities reveal the number of people it executes, to no avail.
This past March, Amnesty International said it officially recorded 527 executions in China last year, although the actual number is likely to be much higher.
In March 2010, Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International's Interim Secretary General, said: The death penalty is cruel and degrading, and an affront to human dignity. The Chinese authorities claim that fewer executions are taking place. If this is true, why won't they tell the world how many people the state put to death?