China Curbs Executions as Olympics Loom
Executions down 40% in runup to 2008
By Greg Atwan,  Newser User
Posted Jun 9, 2007 10:05 AM CDT
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivers an opening remarks at the opening ceremony of the African Development Bank's annual meetings Wednesday May 16, 2007 in Shanghai, China. China has already forgiven more...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Capital punishment is on the decline in China, a country responsible for more than half of the world's executions. Beijing doesn't release figures, but human rights watchers say death penalty cases are down as much as 40% over the last six years. Sinologists reckon much of that drop represents an image manicure as the Beijing Olympics approach.

But the move may reflect broader ferment in a criminal justice system that almost never acquits defendants, and which counts political dissidents among the tens of thousands it puts to death each year. Executions are expected to drop further in 2007, as China's Supreme Court assumes oversight of every capital case.