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China: No Withdrawal of Appeals of Death Sentences

(Sept. 13, 2010) Effective from September 1, 2010, if a criminal defendant in China who has been sentenced to death in the first trial appeals to the higher court but subsequently withdraws the appeal, the court will still consider it.

This comes from a judicial interpretation jointly issued by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) and Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) of China: Reply on Whether to Allow the Withdrawal of an Appeal Against a Death Sentence by the Accused After the Time Limit for Appeal Has Expired but Before the Judgment Is Announced. The Interpretation was passed by the SPC and the SPP on July 6, 2010, and June 4, 2010, respectively, and published by the SPC on its official website on September 3, 2010. (Text of the Interpretation [in Chinese], SPC official website (Sept. 3, 2010),

This is another step China is taking toward reducing the use of the death penalty, or at least softening the nation's image as a major executioner. Just recently, a new amendment of China's Criminal Law was proposed to the Standing Committee of the People's Congress for review. If this amendment is adopted, 13 non-violent, economic crimes would no longer be subject to the death penalty. (Laney Zhang, China: Death Penalty Crimes to Be Reduced, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Aug. 31, 2010),