Police and prison officials must compensate the families of detainees who die or are severely injured, or provide proof that the department was not involved, according to a draft amendment to the Law on State Compensation.
The draft, which is under its second review at the 9th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), said judicial departments must show the families they were not involved in the death or loss of that person's legal transaction.
Ying Songnian, president of China Administrative Law Research Society, said a person who was in jail is incapable of protecting his or herself.
"So when he or she is injured or dead in detention facilities or prisons, the supervision and management departments must take the liability and compensate the victims unless they can prove the injuries and deaths were self-inflicted," Ying said.
There had been 15 unnatural deaths in custody this year, according to figures released by the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) in April.
The SPP and police departments have begun a five-month review to check the efficiency of detention facilities, but there had been no findings about the cause of deaths or compensation. This draft law, if passed, would not be retrospective.
The draft amendment aims to give more people access to compensation and to provide larger payouts. "Compensation should also be granted to those whose cases are later suspended or judged innocent, even though they have been arrested within legal procedures according to the Criminal Procedure Law," it said.
Under the current law, compensation is calculated according to the average daily salary of a state employee in the previous year. The current average daily income is 112 yuan ($16).
From 2003 to 2007, the country's courts have dealt with 13,000 state compensation cases and granted 180 million yuan in damages.
The current law, implemented in 1994, stipulates that a person is eligible for compensation if his or her rights and interests are infringed upon by administrative agencies or officials, but only when they illegally use their power.
Jiang Ming'an, a professor in administrative law in Peking University, said it had been difficult to define an "illegal action" by administrative agencies or officials.
Source: China Daily