China Drops Death Penalty for Tax Evasion

Along with a dozen other non-violent crimes
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2011 6:14 PM CST
China Drops Death Penalty for Tax Evasion
Members of human rights group Amnesty International stage a protest rally in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, April 6, 2010 after China executed a Japanese man for drug smuggling.   (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

China has eliminated the death penalty as a possible punishment for 13 non-violent offenses, the AP reports. But critics say it probably won't make a big dent in the estimated 5,000 annual executions in the country—nearly 70 crimes still carry a possible death sentence, many of them non-violent. Among the offenses no longer in the capital punishment category: forging invoices to avoid taxes and smuggling cultural relics out of the country.

The one non-violent crime likely to carry the death penalty for some time is corruption. "Because there still is a very strong sense that corrupt officials must die, among the Chinese population at large," says a researcher for Dui Hua, a human rights group. "The revulsion for that offense is so strong that there would be a potential political cost to eliminating the death penalty for corruption." (Read more death penalty stories.)

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