State media reported Friday the change will take effect next year after Thursday's vote by the National Assembly.

Vietnam has numerous crimes that are punishable by death, ranging from economic fraud to drug trafficking. About 100 people are executed each year in Vietnam, many for drug-related crimes.

International human rights groups say death by firing squad is barbaric and that Vietnam imposes too many death sentences.

A paper issued by the assembly's standing committee said it was necessary to find a more humane method of carrying out executions.

"Injection of poison to people being executed causes less pain and their bodies stay intact. It costs less and reduces psychological pressure on executors," it said.

Some lawmakers were against the move. Execution by firing squad was a deterrent in the face of "seriously increasing crimes," Vietnamnet quoted assembly member Pham Xuan Thuong as saying.

The new law also allows relatives of the executed to retrieve their bodies for burial.

The Associated Press - June 21, 2010