China's revisions to its death penalty laws came into effect today, removing 13 crimes from the list of offenses punishable by death. The move marks the first time the number of crimes subject to the death penalty has been reduced since the country's Criminal Law took effect in 1979. There are now 55 remaining crimes in China that are punishable by dealth.
The crimes removed were mainly economic offenses, for which the death penalty was rarely applied in practice. Such offenses include tax fraud, fraud with letters of credit, and the smuggling of cultural relics. The revisions were proposed by The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress last year and approved in late February this year.
Under the revisions, felons over the age of 75 have been made exempt from the death penalty. Previously only offenders under the age of 18, and pregnant women were exempt from capital punishment.