China’s top legislature said on Monday it was considering the abolition of the death penalty for a range of non-violent economic crimes, including animal smuggling, tax evasion and forgery.
The proposed amendment to China’s criminal law would reduce the number of crimes punishable by death by about one-fifth, from 68 to 55.
The amendment is the latest in a number of reforms to the death penalty pushed for by Chinese legal scholars who have complained that many people guilty of trivial crimes or unfairly tried have been executed.
The reformers in recent years also persuaded the authorities to require Supreme Court approval for all death sentences and to make torture inadmissible in capital cases.
Amnesty International estimates China executes thousands of people each year, far more than the rest of the world combined, and often kills prisoners to make a political point to opponents of the ruling Communist party.
The 13 crimes that would no longer warrant the death penalty include smuggling of gold, silver, cultural relics or rare animals and their products.