BEIJING, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- China's newly revised Criminal Law has reduced the number of crimes punishable by death by 13 to 55.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) passed the amendment to the Criminal Law Friday at its bi-monthly session.
It was the first time the People's Republic of China has reduced the number of crimes subject to the death penalty since the Criminal Law took effect in 1979.
"The move can be regarded as an effort to respect life and protect human rights," said Prof. Liu Mingxiang, deputy dean of the Law School, Renmin University of China.
The 13 crimes were economic-related non-violent offences, including smuggling cultural relics, gold, silver, and other precious metals and rare animals and their products out of the country; carrying out fraudulent activities with financial bills; carrying out fraudulent activities with letters of credit; the false issuance of exclusive value-added tax invoices to defraud export tax refunds or to offset taxes; the forging or selling of forged exclusive value-added tax invoices; the teaching of crime-committing methods; and robbing ancient cultural ruins.
The amendment is considered another move by China to limit the use of the death penalty, following a decision in 2007 that all verdicts involving the capital punishment should be reviewed and approved by the Supreme People's Court (SPC).
"To reduce the death penalty step by step is a good method for China," Liu said.