Archive for ‘Rule of law’

01/04/2015

China to phase out outdated regulations – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China has announced a new drive to phase out outdated rules.

The State Council, the country’s cabinet, said on Tuesday that it will put all government rules and regulations since the founding of the New China under scrutiny.

A statement from the State Council said the new undertaking, which will take approximately three years, is crucial to cutting red tape and devolving power while improving regulation, and to building a law-based government.

In particular, authorities will focus on removing obsolete government regulations that now run counter to the Constitution and laws, impede deepening reform and opening up, and those that infringe on citizens’ rights and interests.

The government should make sure that “anything the law does not authorize is not done, while all duties and functions assigned by law are performed”, the statement said, adding that details of rules to be abolished will be made public and that the campaign will be based on “scientific evaluation”, so as not to leave room for “regulation vacuums”.

via China to phase out outdated regulations – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

28/02/2015

China to spend 26 billion yuan to register rights ahead of rural reforms | South China Morning Post

China will spend about 26 billion yuan (HK$33 billion) to help identify and register the contractual rights over the nation’s arable land to pave the way for rural reforms.

Uygur farmers prepare potato beds in Xinjiang province. Photo: Reuters

More than 200 million rural households around the nation will be interviewed to help prepare the accurate record of farming rights.

Calling the task a “massive systematic project”, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Friday that clarifying land tenure and issuing certificates to farmers would form the basis of a series of expected reforms which aimed to help free up the rural land market.

Nearly 200,000 villages around the country – or one third of the total – have begun with the task, by aerial photography or site measurement, said MOA officials in a press conference.

Zhao Kun, a deputy inspector of the ministry’s rural economic system department, said local governments had appropriated a total of 8 billion yuan to carry out the job.

The central government has promised to provide 10 yuan for each mu of arable land – the Chinese unit of land area, which measures 666 square metres – a total of 18 billion yuan according to official data that states the mainland had 1.82 billion mu of farmland up to the end of 2011.

The Land Administration Law states that the ownership of rural land belongs to village collectives, with farmers given contractual rights to the land they farm for 30 years.

The central authorities decided to increase the security of land tenure in 2008. A directive issued that year said that contractual land management rights for farmers should “remain unchanged for a very long time”.

However, unlike urban home owners, rural residents do not yet hold any certification to prove their legal rights to their homes and farmland.

This makes it hard for them to transfer the land, which is forbidden by existing regulations but now being reformed in order to encourage larger scale farming and improve utilization efficiency of rural land.

Zhang Hongyu, head of the rural economic system department, said when farmers were given contractual rights of farmland in the first round of rural reform a few of decades ago, there were only rough estimates made about the size of their land plots owing to limitations over measuring methods at the time.

“Any related document the farmers previously had – either a contract or some other sort of certificate – showed different figures from what we are now finding,” he said.

Zhao said the project was not only a technical issue of measurement.

“It also involves interviews with each of the more than 200 million rural households [around the nation], which are really important for farmers as they need to know how big their plots are and where they’re located,” he said.

via China to spend 26 billion yuan to register rights ahead of rural reforms | South China Morning Post.

26/02/2015

China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters

China’s top court set a five-year deadline on Thursday for legal reforms to protect the rights of individuals, prevent miscarriages of justice and make its judiciary more professional as the ruling Communist Party seeks to quell public discontent.

Zhou Qiang, President of China's Supreme People's Court, attends National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A statement on the Supreme Court’s website promised specific deadlines for each goal, including support for a “social atmosphere of justice” by 2018.

It gave more details of a decision reached at a four-day meeting last year, when the party pledged to speed up legislation to fight corruption and make it tougher for officials to exert control over the judiciary.

Despite the legal reforms, Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s administration has shown no interest in political change and has detained dozens of dissidents, including lawyers.

China’s top court stressed that one of the five basic principles of legal reform was adhering to the party’s leadership and “ensuring the correct political orientation”.

He Xiaorong, the director of the Supreme People’s Court‘s reform division, said the court “would make officials bear responsibility for dereliction of duty” for cases that have a wide impact.

“Only through the establishment of such a system can we ensure that we can guarantee social fairness and justice in every case,” He told a news conference, according to a transcript on the court’s website.

The measures reflect worries about rising social unrest. Anger over land grabs, corruption and pollution – issues often left unresolved by courts – have resulted in violence between police and residents in recent years, threatening social order.

via China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters.

18/02/2015

China orders compensation to acquitted death row prisoner | Reuters

A court in China’s southern city of Fuzhou ordered compensation of 1.14 million yuan ($182,000) to a former death row prisoner who was acquitted on charges of poisoning two children, state media said on Tuesday.

The rare acquittal of Nian Bin, a former food stall owner who was freed in August after a court in Fujian province found there was insufficient evidence, prompted renewed calls for the abolition of the death penalty in China.

Nian, 39, was accused of poisoning his neighbors with rat poison, leading to the death of two children and injuries to four others in July 2006.

But he said he was tortured into confessing during police interrogations and had pursued his appeals for years, an effort closely watched by human rights lawyers in China and global rights groups.

He was convicted several times and spent 8 years in prison before being acquitted.

The intermediate court made the ruling on Sunday, and on Tuesday announced that Nian “should be paid 589,000 yuan for loss of personal freedom and another 550,000 yuan for mental suffering,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.

China’s ruling Communist Party has said it aims to prevent “extorting confessions by torture” and halt miscarriages of justice with a “timely correction mechanism”, after a series of corruption investigations involving torture outraged the public.

via China orders compensation to acquitted death row prisoner | Reuters.

26/01/2015

1.39 million Chinese receive legal assistance – Xinhua | English.news.cn

The Chinese government provided free legal aid services for nearly 1.39 million people in 2014 to help them safeguard their rights, the Economic Daily reported on Monday.

More than one-third of them are migrant workers who are vulnerable to job dismissal and withheld wages and know little about the legal system, the report said, quoting the Ministry of Justice.

The ministry’s statistics showed that about 10 percent more migrant workers than last year said they would like to seek legal assistance if their rights are violated.

Legal service centers have been springing up in streets, communities and prisons across China. The number of new legal service centers in 2014 totaled 70,000, the ministry said. The country will guide more legal service agencies to provide assistance to suspects and defendants in prisons.

It also promised to lower the eligibility standard for people to receive legal assistance and expand services for military personnel.

via 1.39 million Chinese receive legal assistance – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

22/01/2015

China’s Communist Party Sounds Death Knell for Arrest, Conviction Quotas – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Former Chinese judge Jianwei Fang doesn’t mince words about the country’s practice of using arrest and conviction quotas to measure the performance of the country’s police, prosecutors and judges.

“It’s very stupid,” he says.

The Communist Party would appear to agree. This week, the party agency in charge of legal affairs, the Central Political and Legal Committee, called on the country’s legal institutions to “firmly abolish” the inclusion of goals for arrests, indictments, guilty verdicts and case conclusions in assessments of staff, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

The demand from the committee appeared to reinforce a decision by the Supreme People’s Court in December to do away with court performance rankings based on quotas and lessen the importance of quotas in assessing performance.

Xinhua’s report drew a connection between performance standards in the Chinese legal system and a proliferation of wrongful convictions, including in death penalty cases. Some of those cases, it said, “were affected by the presumption of guilt, and were caused by an emphasis on confession over evidence, even torture.”

Mr. Fang, who worked as a junior judge in eastern China’s Zhejiang province in the mid-2000s, described the elimination of quotas as one of the most encouraging reforms to be announced following a major Communist Party meeting on rule of law in October.

“Different judges and different courts are competing based on these targets, which are highly unscientific and unreasonable,” he said. “They don’t mean anything.”

Conviction rates for criminal cases in China are well over 90%. It sometimes happens, according to Mr. Fang, that judges and prosecutors may suspect a defendant is innocent but still find him guilty and impose a suspended sentence in order to maintain good conviction numbers.

via China’s Communist Party Sounds Death Knell for Arrest, Conviction Quotas – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

15/01/2015

India’s Courts Resist Reform; Backlog at 31.4 Million Cases – Businessweek

Puneet Mittal, trim and sharply dressed, walks into the lobby of his law office in affluent South Delhi, a smartphone pressed to his ear. He turns to a recently hired associate, Bhavesh Verma. “We’re leaving at 9:30. And I don’t want to waste time.” But through no fault of his own, that’s just what Mittal’s going to do.

India’s Supreme Court

He is making his daily plunge into India’s court system, a maze of delays and procedures that puts even the most basic justice out of reach for millions. At the end of 2013, there were 31,367,915 open cases working their way through the system, from the lowest chambers to the Supreme Court. If the nation’s judges attacked their backlog nonstop—with no breaks for eating or sleeping—and closed 100 cases every hour, it would take more than 35 years to catch up, according to Bloomberg Businessweek calculations. India had only 15.5 judges for every million people in 2013, then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the time. The U.S. has more than 100 judges for every million.

Beneath a top layer of established attorneys such as Mittal, the courts are plagued by “goondas in black,” a phrase that pairs the Hindi word for “goons” with a sly reference to the black suit jackets lawyers wear in court. To keep collecting fees, these lawyers demand one hearing after another, with no intention of seeking a resolution for their clients, says Alok Prasanna Kumar, senior resident fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, which advocates for a more efficient system. Or, he says, they resort to extortion to make up for a lack of income. A “significant number” of the lawyers, especially outside the capital, have practices that don’t sustain them. That leads them to clog the system with pointless litigation: “The bar in India is in a very bad shape,” Kumar says.

In 2013 there were 31,367,915 open cases in India, from the lowest courts to the Supreme Court

Even the best attorneys can have low-stakes lawsuits last a decade or more. New Delhi lawyer Murari Tiwari describes one 20-year property dispute: His original client has died, as has one of his sons. While the case crawls through the courts, Tiwari says, the two families in litigation, one including an auto-rickshaw driver and the other a retired policeman, live on opposite sides of the same building in an icy détente.

via India’s Courts Resist Reform; Backlog at 31.4 Million Cases – Businessweek.

31/12/2014

$330,000 compensation for family of wrongly executed man – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

The parents of Hugjiltu, an 18-year-old who was executed after being wrongly convicted of raping and killing a woman in 1996, will receive 2,059,621.4 yuan ($332,116) in state compensation, the Higher People’s Court of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region ruled on Tuesday.

$330,000 compensation for family of wrongly executed man

The verdict has been delivered to Li Sanren and Shang Aiyun, parents of Hugjiltu, on Wednesday morning, the court said.

The parents of Hugjiltu said they respect the decision of the court.

Hugjiltu’s mother, Shang Aiyun, holds a photo of her son, who was wrongfully executed 18 years ago. [Photo by Guo Tieliu/for China Daily]

On Dec 15, 2014, the Inner Mongolia Higher People’s Court overturned Hugjiltu’s previous conviction and ruled he was not guilty of rape and murder, saying that the facts of his case were unclear and evidence was inadequate. It was 18 years after the man was executed.

The Intermediate People’s Court of Hohhot found Hugjiltu, a member of the Mongolian ethnic group, guilty of raping and fatally choking a woman in a toilet at a textile factory in Hohhot on April 9, 1996. He was sentenced to death and executed in June of the same year.

The case triggered controversy in 2005 when suspected serial rapist and killer, Zhao Zhihong, confessed to the murder after he was arrested.

Zhao allegedly raped and killed 10 women and girls between 1996 and 2005. He was tried in late 2006, but no verdict has been issued.

via $330,000 compensation for family of wrongly executed man – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

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.

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