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Provincial Courts to Lose Death Sentence Rights
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The top legislature began on Friday deliberating a draft amendment to the law on the country's court system, in an effort to restrict the power of provincial courts in issuing death sentences.  

Once pronounced by provincial courts, all death penalties must be reviewed and ratified by the Supreme People's Court (SPC), according to the draft amendment to the country's law on the people's courts.  

The draft, tabled to the 24th session of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) for the first reading, is supposed to come into effect on January 1, 2007, with legislative approval.  

The SPC had been responsible for reviewing all death penalty cases till 1983 when parts of the final review authority were decentralized to provincial courts amidst a major crime crackdown.  

However, practices by provincial courts relating to death sentence appeals and final judgment both have long been criticized for leading to miscarriages of justice. This prompted the SPC to announce plans to resume its judicial authority last year.

(Xinhua News Agency October 27, 2006)

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