Archive for ‘Rule of law’

07/12/2014

China to end use of prisoners’ organs for transplants next month | Reuters

China, the only country that still systematically takes organs from executed prisoners for use in transplant operations, plans to end the controversial practice from next month, a state-run newspaper said on Friday.

The government has over the last year flagged plans to end the practice, which has drawn criticism from rights groups, who have accused authorities of taking many organs without consent from prisoners or their families, a claim Beijing has denied.

The official China Daily said that human organ transplants will from Jan. 1 rely on voluntary public donations and on donations from living relatives.

“Harvesting organs from executed prisoners for transplants is controversial, despite written consent being required from donors and their relatives,” Huang Jiefu, head of the China Organ Donation Committee, was quoted as saying.

via China to end use of prisoners’ organs for transplants next month | Reuters.

03/11/2014

The law at work: No more rooms | The Economist

FOR most of the past 70 years Qiao Shuzhi’s family supported the Communist Party, and the party took good care of the family. Mr Qiao’s father, an underground member during the war against Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, helped store and move military supplies. He was rewarded with a building in the Haidian district of north-western Beijing. In 1953 he turned it into the Tianyi Guesthouse, offering budget lodgings to travellers. Permission for the business was granted, in writing, by China’s police chief at the time.

In the 1960s, Mr Qiao says, Zhou Enlai, who was then prime minister, protected the guesthouse, allowing it to operate as the only private business in Beijing throughout the mayhem of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. When pro-market reforms began in the late 1970s the guesthouse was widely praised as a model family-run operation.

 

Now Mr Qiao, 64, has lost it all. He does not understand why the party, whose Central Committee has just met to extol the “rule of law”, cannot protect him from the developers and officials he accuses of grossly violating it. Wielding a sheaf of official papers that acknowledge his ownership of the building, Mr Qiao says he was abducted and held for 13 hours last December as the building was demolished by what he describes as a network of corrupt officials and developers. All of its contents were lost.

Mr Qiao’s story is far from unique. Since the mid-1990s, tens of millions of Chinese have lost their land. In many cases, only minimal compensation has been offered. Researchers believe that, of thousands of “mass incidents” of rural unrest occurring each year, the majority are about land. In one of the worst recent cases, nine people were killed in mid-October in Yunnan province in the south-west in a dispute over evictions.

In their campaign for redress, Mr Qiao and his son have been stymied at every turn. Local police did not respond when thugs broke the Qiaos’ windows. The electricity bureau did nothing when power to his building was cut. Planning officials scoffed at his request for adequate compensation for the loss of his business. The Qiaos informally approached a local court to assess their chances of suing the government successfully. They were given a brush-off.

Mr Qiao and his son dare not go back to their old street. They are paying a high rent in order to live near Zhongnanhai, the compound housing China’s leaders. They feel that at least they’ll be safer in a well-guarded neighbourhood.

via The law at work: No more rooms | The Economist.

28/10/2014

Top Chinese prosecutor guarantees protection for whistleblowers | Reuters

China’s top prosecuting body said on Tuesday that whistleblowers who expose corruption and other wrongdoing would receive legal protection against reprisals.

President Xi Jinping has made fighting graft a central theme of his administration, warning that the problem was so severe it could threaten the survival of the ruling Communist Party.

The party is keen to harness the power of the Internet in the fight, although it has been hampered by public suspicion that complaints will be ignored, and also by arrests of and even attacks on online whistleblowers.

A statement on the website of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said it was clarifying the rights of whistleblowers for the first time through new regulations.

“The ‘regulations governing the work of whistleblowers’ require that when the prosecutor’s office receives a whistleblowing report from someone giving their real name, it has to assess the risks from the whistleblowing and develop whistleblower protection plans when necessary to prevent and end acts of retaliation against the whistleblowers,” the statement said.

The prosecutor also promised to respond quickly to such reports.

Last year, the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, set up a new website for whistleblowers.

The government had previously set up a website in 2009 specifically for the reporting of corruption. Authorities have investigated some online accusations and jailed several low-level officials.

It is unclear how many tips the site has received in recent months. From 2008 to 2012 the commission said it received 301,000 whistleblowing reports online.

via Top Chinese prosecutor guarantees protection for whistleblowers | Reuters.

05/09/2014

Chinese woman wrongfully jailed for theft given apology and payout 25 years after | South China Morning Post

Twenty-five years after she was locked up behind bars, a Guangdong woman on Thursday received more than 650,000 yuan (HK$818,000) in compensation for being wrongfully imprisoned – in the latest case of corrective measures for miscarried justice in China.

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Bai Chunrong was sentenced to eight years in prison for theft on July 28, 1989, and served time until she was released in 1996, the Guangdong province newspaper New Express reported.

Bai filed an appeal in March 1990 but the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court upheld the conviction. There were no further details about her crime given in the court announcement.

The same court reopened the case in late March and the judge declared her innocent on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Bai received the compensation from the Foshan court judge, who apologised to Bai for the wrongful conviction.

Bai, crying while kneeling on the floor and kowtowing to the magistrate, said: “I really thank the current court and judge for helping me get vindicated.”

Last month, in a rare acquittal, a court in southeastern Fujian province overturned the death penalty against a food hawker convicted of double murder.

via Chinese woman wrongfully jailed for theft given apology and payout 25 years after | South China Morning Post.

26/08/2014

Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek

India’s Supreme Court said Monday that all government allocations of coal reserves to private companies from 1993 to 2010 were conducted illegally, and it will hold a hearing to decide whether to cancel them.

More than 200 coal blocks, or areas of unmined reserves, were allocated during that period to companies for their use in power plants or steel or cement factories. The companies were allowed to sell excess coal on the open market, but the court said commercial sales from the reserves must be suspended until it makes its decision at a hearing on Sept. 1.

The court’s ruling extends beyond the initial case — dubbed “Coalgate” by the Indian media — in which the previous Congress party-led government was accused of costing the treasury hundreds of billions of dollars by selling or allocating about 155 coal blocks in 2004-09 without competitive bidding. A report by the country’s Comptroller and Auditor General leaked to the media in March 2012 estimated those losses to have been around $210 billion.

The scandal along with other high-profile cases of alleged corruption were seen as a key reason for the Congress party’s loss in this year’s elections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party.

The court said in its ruling Monday that between 1993 and 2010 there had been “no fair and transparent procedure” in the coal allocation process, “resulting in unfair distribution of the national wealth.”

“Common good and public interest have, thus, suffered heavily,” said the court, led by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha.

via Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek.

30/06/2014

China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters

China’s supreme court has appointed a senior judge to handle environmental cases as the environmentally challenged country bids to get tough on polluters and improve the way its laws are enforced, an official newspaper said on Monday.

China Environmental News, published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said Deng Xuelin had been appointed as the presiding judge of the Environmental and Resources Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court.

The tribunal was formally established just two weeks ago.

Beijing, hit by a series of pollution scares and scandals, has vowed to reverse some of the damage done by three decades of untrammeled economic growth, but it has traditionally struggled to impose its will on big industrial enterprises and the local governments that protect them.

The report said the new state tribunal would give “unified guidance and coordination” to the 134 specialist environmental courts that have been set up by local governments, noting that the procedures used to handle such cases was “very informal”.

Litigators have long complained that lawsuits launched against polluters have been routinely rejected or even ignored by local courts, many of which lack the capacity and the independence to take on powerful government-backed firms.

China has promised to create legal channels allowing members of the public to take action against firms that break the law, but environmental officials say they lack resources and are already overwhelmed by the number of cases.

 

Earlier this year, China passed amendments to its 1989 Environmental Protection Law, giving local governments greater powers to fine, shut down and even imprison violators.

via China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters.

16/06/2014

China aims to revamp justice system but Communist Party to retain control | Reuters

Legal reforms are a key platform for President Xi Jinping‘s government to restore popular faith in the Party and judicial system amid simmering public discontent over miscarriages of justice often caused by officialsabuse of power.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the sixth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing June 5, 2014. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool

China must “improve the requirements for appointing justices and prosecutors while upholding the principles of leading party officials and respecting the rule of justice”, an unnamed official in the top office in charge of judicial reforms told the official Xinhua news agency.

It did not say when the pilot programs would be launched.

To limit interference by local governments, provincial governments will pick judges and prosecutors and fix the budgets of local courts and procuratorates, Xinhua reported. The system currently gives local governments greater sway in appointments.

Panels of legal specialists at the provincial level will nominate judges and prosecutors, but the Party must still approve their appointments.

The reforms must “uphold the Party’s leadership,” the official said, signaling a willingness by the central leadership to improve its courts as long as the Party’s overall control is not threatened.

Critics have described the leadership’s call for greater independence for courts as a hollow gesture, because judges ultimately answer to the Party.

via China aims to revamp justice system but Communist Party to retain control | Reuters.

13/06/2014

China’s Supreme Court overturns death sentences for two men who raped 11-year-old girl | South China Morning Post

The Supreme People’s Court has overturned the death sentences given to two men convicted of raping and forcing an 11-year-old girl to work in a brothel.

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The court said the high-profile case, which has received national media attention, would be retried.

Tang Hui, the victim’s mother, has campaigned for years believing death sentences should be handed out to all people who were guilty in her daughter’s case.

She has also petitioned local governments to punish officials who she said had been bribed by prostitution gangs to protect their operations.

“The ruling has dealt a heavy blow to us,” Tang told the South China Morning Post yesterday.

“My family just tries to live a normal life. As the case reopens, we’ll experience all the nightmares again. I’m especially worried about my daughter.”

Tang’s daughter has contracted herpes, an incurable sexually transmitted disease, and psychological trauma after she was raped and forced to work as a prostitute at the age 11 for two months in a brothel in Yongzhou in Hunan province in 2006.

Her daughter’s two main kidnappers were sentenced to death in June 2012, four accomplices received life sentences and one was jailed for 15 years.

A representative from the Supreme People’s Court said in an interview with the People’s Daily that the death sentences had been overturned because the crimes were not serious enough to warrant capital punishment.

“The circumstances of the crime had not reached the degree of being extremely serious,” the spokesman said.

Forcing a large number of victims into prostitution, or performing torture on victims that resulted in death or permanent injury might have warranted the death sentence, the official added.

Lu Miaoqing , a lawyer in Guangzhou, said the Supreme People’s Court ruling was understandable as judges tended to avoid capital punishment unless a crime had caused deaths.

via China’s Supreme Court overturns death sentences for two men who raped 11-year-old girl | South China Morning Post.

01/04/2014

The Links Between the Delhi and Mumbai Rape Cases – India Real Time – WSJ

The two crimes were strikingly similar: In both, a young, ambitious woman was gang-raped by a group of impoverished men in one of India’s premier cities.

But their connection didn’t end there.

National outrage at the first case, involving a physiotherapy student who died from her injuries in New Delhi in Dec. 2012, arguably had an impact on how the country reacted to the second, in which a photojournalist in Mumbai was attacked while out on an assignment in an abandoned area of the financial capital.

They are also linked through the law.

The Delhi rape triggered changes to legislation to protect women that were subsequently used to convict the men charged with the attack in Mumbai.

Parts of that toughened up legislation, which made death the maximum penalty for rape in the case of repeat offenders, are also being used, for the first time, against the men guilty of gang-raping the Mumbai photojournalist.

Three of the four men convicted of gang-raping the photojournalist have also been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for gang-raping a telephone receptionist a few weeks earlier at the same location.

This makes them repeat offenders, so eligible for the death penalty, said the public prosecutor when he pressed fresh charges against the men last week in the hope of securing a death sentence for them at a trial court in Mumbai.

In the case of the Delhi victim, the attackers were punished under the previous version of the law, which awarded the death penalty for murder in the rarest of rare cases but set the maximum penalty for rape to a life term of 14 years.

The trial judge in the case in Mumbai allowed the prosecutor to introduce the new charge of repeated offense before sentencing began, but the defense lawyers appealed against the decision in the high court. The defense also challenged the constitutional validity of handing the death penalty to repeat gang-rape offenders.

The Mumbai High Court rejected the defense’s appeal against the fresh charges but refrained from expressing  its view on the “tenability of framing additional charge.”

The judges added that their decision not to interfere in the trial court hearing fresh charges should not be construed as approval.

The High Court judges also observed that sentencing repeat gang-rape offenders to death could bypass the “rarest of rare” criteria, which has long been invoked to prevent judges from using the death penalty too frequently or in an arbitrary manner.

via The Links Between the Delhi and Mumbai Rape Cases – India Real Time – WSJ.

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20/02/2014

China charges former mining magnate with murder, gun-running | Reuters

Prosecutors in central China on Thursday charged the former chairman of Hanlong Mining, which had tried to take over Australia’s Sundance Resources Ltd, with murder, gun-running and other crimes as part of a “mafia-style” gang.

Police last year announced the detention of Liu Han and an investigation into his younger brother Liu Yong – also known as Liu Wei – on suspicion of various criminal activities.

In a report carried by the official Xinhua news agency, prosecutors in the central province of Hubei said the two Lius set up the gang in 1993, along with 34 others, which “carried out a vast number of criminal activities”.

The gang was responsible for nine murders, the report said.

via China charges former mining magnate with murder, gun-running | Reuters.

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