[JURIST] The Chinese Supreme Court [official website] will standardize guidelines for when provincial level courts should impose the death penalty, court vice-president Zhang Jun said Wednesday. Zhang also outlined [press release, in Chinese] the top court's intention to strengthen its precedential value and increase oversight over intermediate and lower courts. Ni Shou-ming, spokesperson for the high court, told China Daily that sentencing guidelines for the death penalty will be released before 2008 to help eliminate discrepancies between various Chinese court districts.
In June, China Daily reported that the number of death sentences handed down by Chinese courts in the first five months of 2007 had decreased [JURIST report] following the implementation of reforms [JURIST report] that required all death sentences to be approved by the Supreme People's Court. In October 2006, China's National People's Congress [official website] voted to amend the Organic Law on the People's Court [text; JURIST report] after the high court said [JURIST report] it wanted to restrict the authority of lower courts to review death sentences [JURIST report]. An expert on Chinese criminal law has predicted that the number of death sentences will decease by approximately 20 percent in 2007. The China Daily has more.