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China amending law after detention death row
Updated: 2009-10-27 20:08

BEIJING: A draft amendment to China's state compensation law, which aims to better defend people's rights from being violated by state organs, was submitted to the top legislature for a third reading Tuesday.

The bill was tabled for review at the bi-monthly session of  the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), which opened Tuesday in Beijing.

After the second reading in June, the amendment was revised to include abuse and failure to prevent assaults or abuse in the list of violations by law enforcement departments. The state must compensate victims or their families if they are injured or killed because of these violations.

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The revision has been proposed following death of a man in a detention center in the southwestern Yunnan Province in February which aroused nationwide concern.

Li Qiaoming, 24, was beaten to death by three fellow inmates on February 8, but the detention center at first claimed that he died of playing a game of "hide-and-seek."

The existing state compensation law does not include abuse, but only assault. Nor does it cover the failure by law enforcement departments to prevent assault or abuse.

In the new version, detention centers are listed with the police, procuratorates, courts and prisons as having an obligation to compensate people for violating their rights in criminal cases.

The draft amendment has been the first since the law took effect in 1995. It aims to guarantee smoother channels and improve procedures for victims seeking compensation from state organs.

The draft amendment also enables a person to seek compensation if he or she is found innocent even when the arrest is made under legal procedures.

For the first time, it also includes compensation for psychological injury. The latest version of the draft does not detail how such injuries and damages can be assessed, although several lawmakers suggested clearer definitions during previous readings.

"So long as state compensation involves violations of personal freedom, life and property rights, cases will differ greatly and we do not have enough experience yet to set a universal standard (of the assessment of psychological injury)," said Hong Hu, vice-chairman of the NPC Law Committee, elaborating on the draft amendment at the session.

"It will be better not to define it in detail in the law, but through judicial explanations based on future practice," he said.