Possible death penalty cut triggers discussion

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, August 31, 2010
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Capital punishment has been brought to the fore in China with the latest discussions on draft amendments to the Criminal Law. Whatever the results, experts agree that death penalty will still be an alternative in China for the time being.

Prof. Liu Renwen, director of the Department of Criminal Law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said, "Death penalty is now still considered punishment well deserved for extremely severe crimes in China. People can't accept its abolishment."

"We did a survey a few years ago, in which nearly 90 percent of the respondents were opposed to abolishing capital punishment," Prof. Liu said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

In early 2003, www.sina.com, a major news portal in China conducted a survey among netizens, soliciting their views on capital punishment. Among 28,670 who responded, 67 percent were for death penalty. Some 22 percent were against, preferring it to be scaled down. Only 11 percent thought its abolishment necessary.

Yuan Bin, associate professor with the College for Criminal Law Science at Beijing Normal University, believes the general public still has "a psychological dependence on capital punishment."

According to Yuan, who has been closely following public opinion on death penalty for years, there have been changes in people's views towards capital punishment.

"Chinese people are not staunch supporters for death penalty as they were before," Yuan said. "Some people favor longer prison terms, or life imprisonment as replacements. And most Chinese are positive about the trend of ultimately throwing away death penalty."

In terms of China's legal system, Yuan said, "We are not fully prepared for the ultimate abolishment of capital punishment as there are not yet any replacement accepted by most people in China."

Death penalty has a long history in China, with the earliest available record dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600 B.C.-1046 B.C.). People justified capital punishment on the grounds of retribution and deterrence.

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