Human rights groups have condemned China's use of the death penalty, criticising unfair trials and labelling the country the world's number one executioner.

 

China keeps the number of executions it carries out a secret, but groups like Amnesty International say Chinese authorities carry out more death sentences every year than the rest of the world combined.

 

According to the China Daily report, already half of China's 404 Intermediate People's Courts are already using lethal injections instead of shooting convicts.

 

"We cannot talk about abolishing or controlling the use of death sentences in the abstract without considering ground realities and social security conditions"

Xiao Yang,
President of China's Supreme People's Court

No time frame was given for the change to take place, and the report gave no indication that China was planning to rein-in use of the death penalty.

 

Chief Justice Xiao Yang was quoted in the daily as saying that there was a strong belief in the concept of "an eye for an eye and a life for a life".


"We cannot talk about abolishing or controlling the use of death sentences in the abstract without considering ground realities and social security conditions."

 

China moved to reform its capital punishment system after reports in 2005 of several high-profile wrongful convictions raised public anger.

 

Several lower courts had been accused of arbitrarily imposing the death sentence.

 

Last year the Supreme People's Court, China's top legal body, took back its power of final approval on death penalties following an amendment to the capital punishment law.

 

The amendment ended a 23-year-old practice of allowing provincial courts alone to sign off on executions, the legacy of a crime-fighting campaign in the 1980s.

 

According to Amnesty International China may secretly execute as many as 8,000 people a year, or the equivalent of about 22 a day.