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China's high court rejects 15 percent of death sentences in 2007: report

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 8, 2008
China's supreme court rejected 15 percent of all death sentences handed down by lower courts in 2007 due to a lack of evidence, injustices and illegal court procedures, state media said Saturday.

The total number of death sentences handed down by Chinese courts last year was not revealed, but the verdict reversals came after the high court was empowered in January 2007 to review all capital punishment cases, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

Citing senior supreme court judge Huang Ermei, the newspaper said the verdicts were overturned "because facts surrounding initial convictions were unclear, evidence insufficient, punishment inappropriate, procedures illegal and other reasons".

Huang was quoted as saying China was not prepared to do away with capital punishment despite the problems in its lower courts.

"The abolishment of the death penalty is the trend in international criminal justice, but in our nation we do not have ample conditions to abolish capital punishment," said Huang.

"To reinstitute the death penalty review (to the high court) does not mean we will abolish capital punishment."

China does not reveal the number executions but international rights group Amnesty International has said more people are executed in China than in the rest of the world combined.

At least 1,010 people were executed in China in 2006 according to publicly reported executions, out of a global total of 1,591, Amnesty estimated.

"These figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Credible sources suggest that between 7,500-8,000 people were executed (in China) in 2006," Amnesty said in a report on its website.

China claims fewer people are being executed now the Supreme People's Court, the country's highest judicial body, reviews every execution order.

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Premier says China will stick with one-child policy
Beijing (AFP) March 5, 2008
China will stick with its strict family planning rules, Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday, in an apparent rebuttal to officials who raised the possibility of changes to the one-child policy.

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