Detention rule triggers debate (2)

08:20, April 27, 2010      

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A draft amendment usually receives three readings before being adopted, but there is a provision for more revisions if it is complicated.

The provision where an innocent person does not get any compensation even for wrongful detention has triggered debate among experts.

"Personally, I don't think compensation should be paid if the detention is according to law," said Chen Guangzhong, a professor of criminal law at China University of Political Science and Law. "Detentions are usually made in urgent situations and it is inevitable that police make mistakes."

Police sources told China Daily the change is necessary as the authorities have the onerous task of maintaining social order, and sometimes they need to take urgent action when faced with riots or other serious crimes.

However, Ma Huaide, another professor of criminal law at the same university, considers the amendment to be against the basic principle of the State Compensation Law, which is to "help those who are wronged".

"Just imagine a totally innocent person held for 37 days in a detention house because the police thought he might be a suspect or because he was framed. I don't think it's fair to pay him nothing for his suffering."

One stipulation in the draft amendment that has been welcomed is that compensation be paid for injuries inflicted when officials at detention centers or prisons abuse or beat inmates, or allow others to do so.

The change follows a string of inmate deaths in detention houses this year, which have aroused public concern.

However, experts said it is a pity the revision fails to raise the low compensation standards and the complicated application procedure has not been simplified.

Compensation is calculated based on the average daily salary of a State employee in the previous year. The current compensation is 112 yuan ($16) a day, based on the average daily income in 2008. Compensation for death is 20 times that amount, or an average of 2,240 yuan.

From 1997 to 2007, the courts have dealt with about 25,000 State compensation cases, in which some 8,500 claimants were successful.

Source: China Daily
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