China will further refine the death penalty review process this year, Chief Justice Xiao Yang told the on-going annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, Wednesday.
Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court, said in his annual work report that his court will promote reform in the justice system to safeguard justice in jurisdiction.
The president did not elaborate on the details of reforms, but said earlier when answering questions of the Human Rights magazine last month that China strictly controls the application for death sentence and strictly follows the procedures of passing death sentence.
China has implemented the policy of "combining punishment with leniency" and oppose advocacy of "heavy penalty" and "severe punishments", he told the magazine.
"To those convicted guilty of serious crimes, we approved the capital punishment according to law," he told NPC in his report. "To those convicted of felony crimes but there were circumstances for leniency, we would change the capital punishment to death penalty on probation or life imprisonment according to law."
According to Xiao, China's courts at all levels sentenced a total of 767,951 convicted criminals last year, up 2.8 percent from a year ago. Among the convicted criminals, 19.04 percent were sentenced to more than five years imprisonment, life imprisonment and death penalty.
Some Chinese scholars have proposed abolishing capital punishment, but many others did not agree. The issue has caused a heat debate.
Responding to the call to abolish all death penalty, the China Youth Daily said in a recent report that China should reform its criminal punishment system and set longer years behind bars than the maximum of 20 years imprisonment before death penalty is gradually reduced.
(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2005)