An international human rights group says China's new death penalty reforms will not be effective unless Beijing discloses how many people it puts to death each year.

Human Rights Watch issued the statement Wednesday, one day after China's legislature changed the death penalty law so that the country's highest court must review and ratify all death sentences handed out by provincial courts.

The move is expected to reduce the number of state-sponsored killings each year and prevent the wrongful executions of innocent people.

Human Rights Watch, which opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, called China's action a "good first step," but urged it to lift the secrecy surrounding the number of executions.

China executes more people than any other country in the world. The human rights group says an estimated 10,000 people are put to death annually.

Human Rights Watch also urged China to ensure that courts are independent and that defendants have adequate legal representation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters