Top court issues new guidelines for death penalty

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated : 2019-08-10

Top court issues new guidelines for death penalty
[Photo/VCG]

The Supreme People's Court issued a guideline on Aug 9 to clarify and regulate death sentence review and execution procedures to better protect the rights and interests of people on death row.

The guideline, with 13 articles, will take effect on Sept 1. It states that criminals close to execution can meet not only their close family members such as spouses and children, but also other relatives or friends subject to reason.

Courts should inform those on death row that they have the right to such a meeting. If the people inmates wish to see refuse the meeting, courts must also tell the defendants, it said.

If someone applies to meet with his or her child who is under 18, courts should ask for the approval of the second guardian of the child. A video meeting could be arranged if courts rule such a meeting may affect the children’s psychological health after a review, according to the guideline.

The last words of people about to be executed can be recorded by audio or video, it added.

The guideline also clarifies the legitimate rights of convicts on death row, while the top court is reviewing the death penalty itself. Under current laws, all death sentences in the country must be finally approved by the Supreme People’s Court.

While the local court may deliver the death verdict, it should inform the convict of their right to a defense lawyer while the top court reviews the penalty. The defense lawyer can submit their findings or evidence either to the local court or directly to the top court, according to the guideline.

Despite courts in different areas operating under varying rules to carry out executions follwing the death sentence, all must submit the penalty to the Supreme People’s Court for review and approval.