BEIJING, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- A draft amendment of China's Criminal Law Monday proposed reducing the number of crimes subject to the death penalty to better protect human rights.
The draft amendment was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, for its first reading.
In most cases, a draft law will be read two or three times before being voted for adoption.
It is the eighth amendment to the country's 1997 version of Criminal Law.
China currently stipulates that 68 crimes are punishable by the death penalty. The draft amendment eliminates capital punishment for 13 economy-related non-violent offences, a drop of 19.1 percent.
The 13 crimes to be free from capital punishment include smuggling out of the country prohibited cultural relics, gold, silver, and other precious metals and rare animals and their products; carrying out fraudulent activities with financial bills; and carrying out fraudulent activities with letters of credit.
The 13 crimes also include falsely issuing exclusive value-added tax invoices to defraud export tax refunds or to offset taxes; forging or selling forged exclusive value-added tax invoices; teaching crime-committing methods; and robbing ancient cultural ruins, among others.
Li Shishi, director of Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, said that "considering China's current economic and social development reality, appropriately removing the death penalty from some economy-related non-violent offences, will not negatively affect social stability nor public security."
China has made various efforts to limit the death penalty use over recent years. From Jan. 1, 2007, the Supreme People's Court restarted reviewing before approving all death penalty cases to make sure decisions by lower courts are accurate, after media exposed a series of errors in determining such cases since 2005.
While limiting the crimes that carry the death penalty, the draft amendment provides stricter sentence reduction rules for those given the death penalty with a reprieve.
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JUSTICE TEMPERED WITH MERCY
The draft amendment shows leniency to the offenders aged below 18 or above 75.
The draft amendment states that the death penalty is not to be applied to persons aged 75 or above at the time the crime is committed.
Previously, only those aged under 18 at the time the crime is committed and women pregnant at the time of the hearing were exempt from capital punishment.
According to the draft amendment, a person who has reached the age of 75 and commits a crime could be given a mitigated punishment.