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Document aids victims seeking redress
By Meng Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-11 00:14

A judicial explanation, expected to take effect on October 1, will offer stronger legal support for citizens who have been wronged by the country's courts.

"The explanation is a leap forward in human rights protection and makes judicial proceedings more democratic," said Chen Guangzhong, a leading professor of procedural law with China University of Political Science and Law.

The Supreme People's Court has recently drafted a judicial explanation on how to distinguish if a court owes a victim, the Beijing-based China Youth Daily reported Tuesday.

The judicial explanation aims at better implementing the decade-old State Compensation Law.

The State Compensation Law was enacted in May 1994 and took effect at the beginning of 1995. State compensation includes both compensation for administrative errors and wrongful judicial action.

The law says individuals, corporations and other organizations have the right to claim compensation from the State when their legal rights and interests have been infringed upon by administrative or judicial agencies that have violated the law in exercising their functions and powers.

However, legislative loopholes have made it difficult for victims to claim compensation from government or judicial agencies.

For example, the law says a claimant should first go to the agencies which allegedly did the wrongdoing to confirm whether their rights have been infringed upon and whether they deserve State compensation.

"Such a procedure involves a conflict of interest because it asks violators of the law to determine themselves if they have broken the law," Chen said.

The judicial explanation deprives the primary level courts of the rights to determine if it is obliged to provide compensation.

Such cases will be handled by higher level intermediate courts instead.

It has also introduced a hearing procedure into the determination process. "This is a sign of great progress to ensure the rights of victims," Chen said, adding that participation of all parties involved will help the courts make more just decisions.

Amendment to the State Compensation Law has been listed on the five-year legislative agenda of the country's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress.

A set of scientific procedures will have a direct impact on whether the compensation demands of a victim can be satisfied.

Experts have said legislators should expand the coverage of compensation, increase compensation levels and improve compensation procedures so that the victims receive adequate and prompt redress.

The courts across the country handled 15,867 cases involving compensation by the State by the end of last year, according to figures from the Supreme People's Court.

The Supreme People's Procuratorate has paid nearly 50 million yuan (US$6 million) in State compensation in the past decade.

Yuan Shuhong, a professor of law with the National School of Administration, also suggested that a future amendment has been proposed to expand the range for which compensation will be paid to include damage caused by public agencies and violations of individuals' right to work and receive education. Currently the State only pays compensation for damage to personal rights and property rights.

Ying Songnian, professor and director of the Division of Law of the National School of Administration, said the amount of compensation should be raised, as the country has achieved tremendous economic growth in the past decade.

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