China's Death Penalty Practice Undermines the Integrity of the Death Penalty as a Sentencing Option
17 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2015
Date Written: March 31, 2015
Despite a global trend toward abolition of the death penalty, China today is still believed to carry out a large number of executions every year. The retention of death penalty in China is grounded on ‘national circumstances’ that ‘require’ the death penalty to achieve crime control, incapacitation and soothe public anger. By examining a number of high-profile miscarriage of justice cases, this paper tests the current death penalty practice against the roles the death penalty is said to perform in China. It evaluates a range of legislative and policy changes that attempt to address shortcomings in the current practice. It finds that a range of problems in death penalty practice in China (including problems with evidence, judicial independence and lack of legal representation) undermine the death penalty as a sentencing option and prevent it achieving at least two of its three main aims. Recent changes in policy and in law do address these problems to some extent but because a range of fundamental flaws are left unaddressed, the death penalty system remains problematic.
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