44 officials punished for forced demolitions

Updated: 2011-09-10 19:28


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BEIJING - A total of 44 Chinese officials, including a vice-provincial level official, were held accountable for six forced demolition cases that resulted in the deaths of residents, according to a statement jointly issued by four departments.

A vice-provincial level official, four prefecture-level officials, 18 county-level officials, and 21 village-level officials were held accountable and received administrative and Party disciplines, the Legal Daily quoted the statement as saying on Friday.

Of these 44 officials, 25 are suspected of violating China's Criminal Law and their cases have been transferred to judicial authorities, said the statement jointly issued by the ministries of supervision, land and resources, and housing and urban-rural development, as well as the State Council's office for rectifying malpractice.

China's problematic land transfer and requisition system has led to increasing cases of suicide or self-immolation among affected residents, who complain of low compensation or official corruption.

Land sales are a major source of financial revenue for governments at various levels in China.

"Illegal forced demolition is a red line that cannot be touched anytime, in any situation," said the statement, adding that major cases should be exposed to the public.

"Leading officials of local governments which oversee areas with illegal forced demolitions will be held responsible," it said.

The opinions of residents involved should be carefully heard during demolitions, it said.

If a disagreement arises between residents and real estate developers, residents should apply for administrative review within a designated period of time, but if they do not apply and refuse to move, developers can apply for court-ordered enforcement, it said.

"Forced demolitions using illegal means or violence to coerce residents to move out are strictly prohibited," the statement said.

Any government official who approves an illegal forced demolition will receive serious punishment.

The four departments also published details of six recent forced demolition cases that resulted in the deaths of those residents involved.

A resident of the northeastern city of Changchun suffocated after the government conducted a forced demolition and buried the resident. The director of the city's Chaoyang District was dismissed and the mayor of Changchun issued an open apology.

A man surnamed Wang set himself on fire and died in the city of Zhuzhou in central Hunan Province, after the district court conducted a forced demolition. The court's vice-president received a warning.

A statement posted on the official website of the Supreme People's Court on Friday asked local courts to deal with demolitions "cautiously," adding that demolition work must stop if residents threaten to commit suicide or other extreme acts.

"Risk assessment should be carried out before demolition work in order to ensure that social stability is not threatened," it said.

A State Council regulation issued in January asked local governments to apply for approval from courts before conducting demolitions.


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