China’s newly revised Criminal Law eliminated the death penalty for 13 economy-related crimes “to embody the humanness of the country.”
The amendment marks the first time since the Criminal Law took effect in 1979 that the country has reduced the number of crimes subjects to the death penalty. Most of the 13 crimes dropped have rarely seen the death penalty applied in recent years, including tomb robbing, stealing fossils, smuggling relics and the faking of specialized value-added-tax receipts.
The change makes the first step and let society see the hope of abolishing death penalty. It is a significant progress for China’s law and legal system, which shows mercy as well as respect to human rights.
The amendment also stipulates that the death penalty will not be imposed on people who are 75 or older at the time of their trials, unless they are convicted of crimes involving “exceptional cruelty”. In the past, the only exemptions allowed for death sentences applied to offenders who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes and women who were pregnant at the time of trial.
In despite of the drop of 13 crimes away from death, there has still been 55 crimes existing punishable for the hopeless penalty. It was estimated that every year around 5,000 criminals are executed to death in China, which made it the “cruelest” the country in the world with the largest number of death penalty. According to the authority, since the total number of criminal cases in China is still in an upward trend, the penalty will still be the main measure to prevent crimes, and death penalty is unlikely to abolish at least in the coming 30 years.
However, I don’t think penalty can be the effective measure to eliminate crimes. Punishment itself doesn’t bring bring a redemption. It is the education, employment promotion and social welfare improvement that fundamentally keep people from crimes and being a good man. If the social situation keeps unchanged, the abolition of death penalty will probably be postponed without day.