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Opinion ... ...
    Crime crackdown must observe justice principles
Zheng Fei
2004-12-18 08:06

Some would argue a crime wave is not so unusual in a country in such a state of transition as China.

They hold that the number of crimes goes up as a country's economy develops at fast speed.

One of the unwanted byproducts of China's breakneck economic gallop is the increase of crimes of various sorts.

A secure, sound and legal environment, however, is badly needed for our country's continued economic boom.

A strict, long-term, crime crackdown is imperative to get that job done.

This was a message conveyed by our top judge Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court, at a three-day national conference on the work of the people's courts on Thursday.

The crackdown, known as a "strike hard" campaign, is not an unknown term.

China launched the first "strike hard" campaign in the early 1980s shortly after embarking on its opening-up and reform policy, when there was a leap in the crime rate.

Criminals caught during these campaigns were usually handed severe penalties.

Until recently, the "strike hard" phrase itself has become an effective deterrent for potential wrong-doers.

But its effectiveness is not without controversy.

Although harsh penalties are still within the scope of the law, the speed at which some of the cases are processed is achieved at the expense of justice.

Breaches of the justice principle are a regrettable part of some of the past crime clamp-downs.

What's more important, any verdict should be made according to law, instead of at personal will, which was behind some of the cases in past "strike hard" campaigns.

But this time, the protection of human rights must be incorporated into this and future campaigns, Xiao said.

Measures will be taken to ensure that innocent people are not punished for crimes they did not commit.

With our experience from previous crackdowns, we have reason to believe the campaign this round will be much more effective and plays its own part in our push for a lawful society.

(China Daily 12/18/2004 page4)


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