BEIJING, Oct. 28 -- In a major step to safeguard human rights, the Supreme People's Court is expected to assume all powers to review and approve death sentences from January 1.
Shen Deyong, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, made the announcement on Friday at a session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature.
A draft of an amendment to the Organic Law on the People's Courts was submitted on Friday to the NPC Standing Committee and will be discussed by legislators in panels on Saturday.
Voting on the proposed amendment will probably take place on Tuesday, the final day of the current session.
The Organic Law on the People's Courts authorizes high people's courts at provincial, municipal and autonomous region levels to review death sentences involving murder, rape, robbery, explosion and other serious violations of public security.
But death sentences in other types of cases economic crimes, for example must still be approved by the Supreme People's Court.
It is necessary to revise the stipulation in the death sentence approval system to ensure the consistent administration of justice, Supreme People's Court President Xiao Yang said.
"Cases in which the death sentence has been issued should be submitted to the Supreme People's Court for approval except in those cases in which the judgments were issued by the Supreme People's Court itself," the proposed revision states.
Normally, laws to be approved by the NPC Standing Committee require three rounds of discussions before a vote is taken.
In fact, a revision to the Criminal Procedure Law in 1996 and the Criminal Law amendment in 1997 both had clear stipulations requiring death sentences to be approved by the Supreme People's Court. But such stipulations have not been officially implemented.