Chinese Courts Told to Cut Death Sentences

The Supreme Court has urged its judges to use the in only the “gravest crimes” and to show “justice tempered with mercy“:

However, the top court in the country that executes more people each year than the rest of the world combined stressed the need for capital punishment and warned against showing mercy to influential officials.

Shocked by a series of miscarriages of justice involving the death penalty and taken aback by the level of public anger, the Supreme Court has been trying for several years to restrain the use of capital punishment by local courts.

It has sent guidelines to courts nationwide saying that the death penalty should be handed down resolutely – but only when merited. It should apply to only a “tiny minority” of the most serious cases and be backed by ample and valid evidence…China is believed to execute several thousand people a year, but the total is a state secret. Amnesty International said China’s courts put to death at least 1,718 people in 2008.

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