[JURIST] China's National People's Congress [official website] voted Tuesday to amend the Organic Law on the People's Courts [text] so that only the Supreme People's Court [official website] has the authority to approve the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. The high court's president first hinted at death penalty reform last year and later the court said it would begin reviewing all death penalty decisions [JURIST reports].
Under the revision [Xinhua report] approved Tuesday, which will take effect January 1, 2007, all cases where the death penalty has been handed down must be approved by the country's top court, except judgments issued directly by the Supreme People's Court. Appeals of guilty verdicts will still be considered through the standard appellate process. AP has more. Xinhua has local coverage.