Mercy may be shown to the elderly
Updated: 2010-12-21 07:32
By Bao Daozu (China Daily)
BEIJING - Criminals over the age of 75 will not be subjected to capital punishment, unless they resorted to "extreme brutality" to commit murder, according to the latest draft amendment to the country's Criminal Law.
The stipulation, included in the second draft of the eighth amendment to the Criminal Law, was submitted on Monday to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, the country's top legislature.
It has since been revised after concern was raised over the possibility of gangs employing elderly people to commit serious crimes, Liu Renwen, a researcher at the Institute of Law under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily.
Although the latest draft does not completely drop the death penalty for criminals over the age of 75, he said it sets a benchmark in terms of protecting human rights, whose moral basis resides in traditional Chinese culture.
The latest draft also retains proposals to drop the death penalty for 13 economically motivated non-violent crimes, despite opposition from some legislators.
The draft amendment specifies conditions for reducing sentences, specifying that their application should be limited in cases involving repeat offenders and criminals found guilty of committing violent offences, while leniency can be shown to those whose confessions help minimize losses.
Liu said the changes to the draft amendment will help restructure the country's system of criminal law in accordance with its policy of "tempering justice with mercy".
Beijing-based criminal lawyer Tang Hongxin said limited sentence reductions can increase the deterrence effect of criminal punishment.
The draft revision has also further reduced the standard of proof required in cases of producing and selling substandard food. The crime was initially included in the first draft amendment as part of the country's efforts to protect people's health.
Zhou Guangquan, a professor of law at Tsinghua University and a member of the NPC Law Committee, said the change "reduces the difficulties of obtaining evidence for crimes related to food safety".
He pointed out that the draft's inclusion of an article on negligence in regard to food safety reflects the country's determination to curb cases of substandard food.
The crime of pickpocketing has also been included in the latest draft amendment.
"Pickpocketing, which seriously violates a citizen's personal and financial safety, exerts a negative impact on society and should therefore be specifically mentioned in the Criminal Law," said Li Shishi, director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee.
Zhao Yinan contributed to this story.
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