Death penalty use to be reconsidered

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The Independent Online

China is said to be reconsidering its executions policy in light of international dismay at the draconian range of offences for which the death penalty is used.

According to the South Weekend newspaper, the country's highest legislative body is considering amending the law next month to place strict limits on use of the penalty.

There are currently 68 crimes in China that can result in execution, including credit card fraud and bigamy. The body is expected to consider whether the elderly should face the ultimate penalty. A legal scholar quoted in the article says the practice has damaged China's image.

China does not publish execution statistics, but human rights groups say it executes thousands of people every year. However, the government claims the number has dropped in recent years.