Under the Ministry of Public Security's recommendations, 12 crimes _ ranging from fraud and bribery to counterfeiting, hijacking and war crimes _ will no longer be subject to capital punishment, the English-language newspaper Vietnam News said.

The lawmaking National Assembly will consider approving the recommendations, the paper said.

The goal is to make Vietnam's legal system more humane and in line with other countries' penal systems, the newspaper quoted Nguyen Ngoc Anh, head of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Public Security, as saying.

International human rights groups, along with several countries, have criticised Vietnam for handing down too many death sentences and have called on the government to abolish the death penalty.

In 1999, the National Assembly cut the number of offenses punishable by death from 44 to 29.

Statistics on the death penalty are officially a state secret in Vietnam. Tuesday's Vietnam News, however, reported that 116 criminals were sentenced to death in 2006 and that last year's number was 95.

The Associated Press - July 17, 2008