Death penalty a rarity in China: Top judge

BEIJING: China has executed an “extremely small number of criminals” in the past decade, the nation’s chief justice said on Sunday. Chief Justice Zhou Qiang did not provide any figures in his work report to China’s national legislature, state media reported. Death sentence statistics are classified state secrets in China. The nation’s top court has “strictly controlled and prudently applied” the death penalty since 2007, Zhou told the National People’s Congress. The Supreme People’s Court began reviewing death penalty cases by lower courts in 2007 after a series of high-profile wrongful executions. Rights groups say China most likely executes more people than the rest of the world combined, however.

“Thousands of people were put to death and thousands of death sentences were imposed in 2015,” Amnesty International USA said last year. In that same year, the rest of the world executed at least 1,634 people, the group said. There were at least 2,400 executions in China in 2014, according to Death Penalty Worldwide, a research and advocacy group at Cornell Law School in the United States. Reforms of recent years may have reduced the number of executions, according to Amnesty International, although secrecy prevents any confirmation of numbers. — DPA