'Kill Fewer, Kill Carefully': An Analysis of the 2006 to 2007 Death Penalty Reforms in China
UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal, Vol 27, 2009
35 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2014
Date Written: 2009
Starting on January 1, 2007, the Supreme People's Court has been charged with reviewing every death sentence pronounced by lower courts in the People's Republic of China. This reform, together with provisions instituted in January 2007 that address death penalty review, are dramatic moves to strengthen procedural justice in death penalty cases. There are indications that these reforms have significantly decreased the execution rate in China. The reforms are not a move toward the Chinese government's abolition of capital punishment, however. Nor are they a response to international abolitionist pressure. Rather, they reflect the current "legalization" agenda of the central government, maintaining the instrumentalist link between overarching state policy and death penalty application. This "legalization" agenda will not necessarily prompt further limitations to death penalty practice. Instead, if overall policy settings change, it is possible that the government may again privilege "campaign justice" over "procedural justice" and wind back the reforms.
Keywords: Chinese law, China, criminal law
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation