Wednesday, July 27, 2005

China to give increased scrutiny to death penalty

My friend Karl Keys directed me to this story. It seems China is going to start giving enhanced review to death penalty cases. This comes as Congress is considering the afore-mentioned Streamlined Procedures Act, which would, in essence, gut the whole concept of federal habeas review.

When even China is marching towards greater protections to ensure against killing the innocent is the Steamlined Procedures Act all that smart of a thing to do?

Here's part of the story:

BEIJING, July 23 -- Courts at all levels have been ordered to set tougher procedural standards for trials involving the death penalty - a step legal experts have hailed as a sign that China will reduce its use of capital punishment.

"Every procedure of the first trial, second trial and retrial, as well as the reviewing of the death penalty, must be rigidly executed," Cao Jianming, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said at a recent seminar for senior justice officials in Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Courts are now also being urged to examine evidence more carefully to avoid incorrect death sentences, he said.

"Lessons should be learnt from trials to perfect the system in the area of capital punishment," the vice-president said.

"Cao's speech indicates that the nation plans to decrease the number of capital punishment sentences in order to follow the policy to 'kill fewer, kill carefully'," Chen Xingliang, a law professor at Peking University, said.

Recent examples such as the case of She Xianglin, who was wrongly convicted and served 11 years in prison for murder, and the unjust murder case of Nie Shubin have widened debate over the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in China.

To read the whole story go here.

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