Home >> CHINA

Full Text: Judicial Reform in China (7)

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-10-9 19:16:08


7. Strict Control over and Prudent Application of the Death Penalty

China retains the death penalty, but strictly controls and prudently applies it. China's Criminal Law stipulates that the death penalty shall only be applied to criminals who have committed extremely serious crimes, and has very strict stipulations on its application. Amendment Eight to the Criminal Law promulgated in 2011 eliminated the death penalty for 13 economy-related non-violent offences, accounting for 19.1% of the total death penalty charges. It stipulates that death penalty shall generally not be used for people who are already 75 years old at the time of trial. It also established the system of death penalty with a suspension of execution and put restrictions on reduction of sentences. These are attempts to create conditions in legislation and system to gradually reduce the use of the death penalty.

The death penalty bears directly on the citizen's right to life, so it must be applied in a very prudent manner. Starting in 2007, only the Supreme People's Court has the right to approve death penalty. In China, court trials of all death penalty cases of the second instance are open to the public. The state has improved the death penalty review procedure and strengthened supervision over the death penalty review. When the Supreme People's Court reviews a death sentence, it shall question the defendant, and hear the opinion of the defense attorney if the attorney makes the request. During the review of a death sentence, the Supreme People's Procuratorate may advise the Supreme People's Court of its opinions. The reform of the death penalty review procedure guarantees fairness in handling death penalty cases. Since 2007, when the Supreme People's Court began to exercise the right to review death sentences, the standard for the application of the death penalty has been more uniform and the number of death sentences in China has dropped gradually.

8. Improving Community Correction System for Persons Serving Sentences and Assistance System for Persons Released from Prison

Improving law-enforcement conditions of prisons and results of education and reform. China is striving to build a just, clean, civilized and efficient prison system, realizing its reform objective of "full-sum guarantee, separation of administrative and business functions, separation of revenues and expenditures, and standardized operation" of prisons. The expenses for jail administration, criminal reformation, prisoners' cost of living, and jail facilities are all guaranteed by the government budget. Inmates are required to work in prison and get paid. Every week, they work for five days, receive classroom education for one day and rest for one day. Attempts are made to strengthen moral, cultural, and technical education to inmates and give them vocational training so as to enhance their ability to make a living after being released. Since 2008, a total of 1.26 million inmates have completed literacy and other compulsory education courses while serving their sentences, and over 5,800 people have acquired college diplomas recognized by the state. Over 30,000 skill-training courses of various kinds have so far been conducted by prisons across the country, and over 75% of inmate trainees have received related certificates, made about 14,000 technological innovations and obtained over 500 invention patents.

Carrying out community correction. In recent years, China has committed itself to reforming and improving the punishment system. It launched this effort in 2003 to introduce community correction experiments first, and then spread it across the country in 2009, putting criminals who have been under surveillance, received a suspended sentence, been released on parole or temporarily served a sentence outside prison into community correction organizations. The aim of this is to correct their crime-prone mentality and harmful behavior with the assistance of social forces and help them reintegrate into society. Community correction has been established as a legal system by China's Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law. By June 2012, a total of 1.054 million people had received community correction, and 587,000 people had been released from such correction. The recidivism rate of those undergoing community correction is around 0.2%.

Improving the system of assistance to people released from prison. The Chinese government pays great attention to helping solve difficulties encountered by people released from prison in life and employment. Those who are eligible for the minimum subsistence allowance are covered by this system. Others who face economic difficulties but ineligible for the minimum subsistence allowance are given temporary assistance. People released from prison who are starting their own businesses and enterprises providing jobs for them can enjoy tax breaks and reduction of administrative fees. According to available statistics, people who are released from prison and receive social assistance across the country increased 2.7-fold from 2008 to 2011. The recidivism rate of such people remains low.

9. Improving the State Compensation System

China has established a state compensation system to compensate citizens, legal persons or other organizations if their lawful rights and interests are damaged by state organs or their functionaries in the course of enforcing their power in accordance with the law. The State Compensation Law of the People's Republic of China amended in 2010 sets up necessary offices responsible for state compensation, opens up the channels for claiming compensation, expands the compensation scope, specifies the burden of proof, adds compensation for psychological injury, increases the compensation standards, and guarantees the timely payment of compensation. This has further improved the system of administrative compensation, criminal compensation, and non-criminal judicial compensation. In recent years, the standard of state criminal compensation has been rising along with social and economic development. The daily payment for infringement upon a citizen's right to freedom was increased from 17.16 yuan in 1995 to 162.65 yuan in 2012. In 2011, a total of 6,786 cases concerning administrative compensation (first instance), criminal compensation and non-criminal judicial compensation were concluded by people's courts at all levels. Among them, 868 were criminal compensation cases, with the aggregate amount of compensation standing at 30.67 million yuan, representing increases of 16.04% and 42.9% respectively as compared with 2009.

10. Establishment of Assistance System for Crime Victims

In recent years, China has been actively exploring ways to establish an assistance system for crime victims. The government will provide appropriate financial support to crime victims who are not able to get effective and timely compensation, live in poverty and particularly to those violent crime victims who are severely injured, disabled or dead or to their immediate family members. The assistance standard and scope for crime victims shall be set in the light of the local economic and social conditions. The crime victim assistance work should be done in combination with related measures, such as legal assistance, judicial assistance and social security, improving the guarantee system for the rights and interests of crime victims. From 2009 to 2011, the judicial authorities issued assistance funds worth a total of 350 million yuan to 25,996 crime victims, and provided legal assistance in 11,593 cases. (More)
Posted in: Politics