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Archive for Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Death penalty change a human rights step

November 1, 2006

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— China, believed to carry out more court-ordered executions than all other nations combined, took a step forward in improving human rights Tuesday by enacting legislation that requires approval from the country's highest court before putting anyone to death.

Human rights activists expressed hope the country will reduce its use of the ultimate penalty. The amendment to China's capital punishment law follows reports of executions of wrongly convicted people and criticism that lower courts have arbitrarily imposed the death sentence.

China is thought to put to execute hundreds, and possibly thousands, of people each year for crimes ranging from murder to such nonviolent offenses as tax evasion. Amnesty International says China executed at least 1,770 people in 2005, but the true number is thought to be many times higher.

In a statement Tuesday, the London-based rights group cited a senior member of China's national legislature as saying some 10,000 people are executed each year. By Amnesty's figures of known executions, China was responsible for more than 80 percent of the 2,148 people executed last year around the world, including 60 in the United States.

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