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China Upholds Use of Death Penalty

  • Stephanie Ho

China says it has no plans to stop putting criminals to death. The Chinese position came in response to an Amnesty International report that places China at the top of a list of countries with the most executions. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.

The Amnesty International report on worldwide executions says China put to death more people than any other country in 2007, with at least 470 executions.

Last year, China reformed the way capital cases are handled, which has led to a substantial reduction in executions. Amnesty says the number of executions it could confirm fell by more than half, from more than 1,000 in 2006 to about 477 last year.

Amnesty analysts say they believe the drop may be temporary and warn that the actual number of people put to death in China may be higher. Death penalty figures are treated as a state secret in China.

Amnesty says there are more than 60 offenses in China that are punishable by death. They include murder, drug trafficking, corruption and other financial offenses.

At a regular briefing Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu gave reporters Beijing's position.

She says the conditions are not ripe for China to abolish the death penalty and that doing away with it would not be accepted by the Chinese people.

She says the Chinese government has taken what she calls a "prudent attitude" toward executions - ensuring the death penalty only applies to a small number of criminals it believes have committed serious crimes.

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