08/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

China Executions To Be Reduced To "An Extremely Small Number"

China, which executes more people per year than any other country, vowed this week to cut back on the habit, ABC News reports. According to Supreme People's Court (SPC)Vice President Zhang Jun, China will now only execute "an extremely small number" of people--presumably reserving the death penalty for the most serious offenders.

"Judicial departments should use the death penalty in the least number of cases possible," Zhang Jun said.

According to Amnesty International, over 1,700 people were executed in China last year.

According to the BBC, the SPC 2 years ago garnered the power to review sentences from lower courts and suspend them if it deemed necessary, leading to a decrease in executions. However, the number still remains high due to the fact that so many offenses are punishable by death in China.

The death penalty still applies to 60 offences in China, including non-violent crimes such as tax fraud and embezzlement.

Mr Zhang told the China Daily that the SPC had been working to ensure that the death sentence was imposed only on those who had committed extremely serious or heinous crimes that led to grave social consequences.

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