China to reduce the number of crimes under the death penalty

Updated 2017-10-31 09:04:23 Global Times

12th NPC Standing Committee reviews Criminal Law

China will continue to remove the number of crimes under the death penalty in the future, Chinese experts said, ahead of a new round of reviews of the draft Criminal Law.

The 12th Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) began a six-day meeting on Monday, during which it will review amendments to the Criminal Law, China News Service reported on Monday.

The report said the Criminal Law has been amended several times since 1997, and major amendments include imposing the death penalty on fewer crimes.

"The amendments to the Criminal Law should adapt to society. China has been removing the number of crimes under the death penalty and will continue to do so," Ruan Qilin, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Monday.

However, not as many crimes will likely be removed under the death penalty this time since amendments were made just two years ago, Ruan said.

In 2015, China's amendments to the Criminal Law removed nine crimes under the death penalty, including arms and ammunition smuggling, possession of nuclear materials, counterfeit currency, illicitly raising funds, arranging for or forcing another person to engage in prostitution, obstructing a police officer or a person on duty from performing his duties, and spreading rumors to mislead others in wartime.

The death penalty may spark public outrage if handled inappropriately, which would eventually lead to social conflicts, Liu Dalai, a lawyer from the Beijing Lianggao Law Firm, told the Global Times.

But Liu said China should not abolish the death penalty "since it helps to deter some criminals and is applicable to certain crimes which severely harm the country and society.

Aside from amendments to the death penalty, another urgent task is to include the explanation for the national anthem law in the Criminal Law, Ruan said.

The national anthem law came took effect on October 1, and states that it is now illegal to use the national anthem at funerals, "inappropriate" private occasions, commercials or as background music in public places.

Those who maliciously modify the lyrics, play or sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way could be detained for up to 15 days, and even be held criminally liable, the law says.

"The law has already taken effect, but penalties have yet to be explained in the amendments, along with regulations on insults to the national anthem in Hong Kong," Ruan said.

Hong Kong football fans booed China's national anthem before an Asian Cup qualifying match between Hong Kong and Malaysia on October 10.

The meeting is also scheduled to examine drafts of other laws, including the Anti-Unfair Competition Law, e-commerce law, and law on public libraries.

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