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The National People's Congress (NPC)

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1 The National People's Congress (NPC)
The National People's Congress is the highest organ of State power in the People's Republic of China. Its main functions and powers include legislative power, appointing and removing power, decisive power and supervising power I. The State legislative power: The NPC has the right to enact and amend the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, and to enact and amend basic laws concerning criminal offenses, civil affairs, the State organs and other matters. II. The power to select, decide and remove the members of the high-level State organs and their power: The NPC has the following rights: --to select the members of the Standing Committee of the NPC; --to elect the President and the Vice-President of the People's Republic of China; --to decide on the choice of the Premier, Vice-Premiers, State Councilors, Ministers in charge of ministries or commissions, the Auditor-General and the Secretary-General of the State Council; --to elect the Chairman of the Central Military Commission and, upon nomination by the Chairman, --to decide on the choice of all other Members of the Central Military Commission; --to elect the President of the Supreme People's Court and the Procurator-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. --The NPC has the right to remove the Members it elected.

2 The National People's Congress (NPC) [cont’d]
III. The decisive power of major State events: The NPC has the right to examine and approve the report on implementing the plan for national economic and social development; to examine and approve the state budget and the report on its implementation; to approve the establishment of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government; to decide on the establishment of special administrative regions and the systems to be instituted there; to decide on questions of war and peace; and other functions and powers as the highest organ of State power should exercise.

3 The National People's Congress (NPC) [cont’d]
IV. The supervising power to other highest State organs: The NPC has the right to supervise the implementation of the Constitution. According to the Chinese Constitution, the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate are all created by the NPC, responsible to it and supervised by it. The NPC's exercise of its supervisory right is to supervise the government and other State organs on behalf of the people. This is an important condition safeguarding the normal operation of the State apparatus. Under the current Constitution and related laws, the NPC holds a session on the first quarter of each year. convened by its Standing Committee. The NPC is elected for a term of five years .

4 Standing Committee of the NPC
The Standing Committee of the NPC is the permanent supreme State organ of power and legislation. It exercises the highest State power and legislative power when the NPC is not in session. The Standing Committee is composed of 153 members, none of whom can assume an office in State administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs, which is seen to be beneficial . The Standing Committee of the NPC exercises several main functions and powers. It interprets the Constitution and supervises its implementation, enacts and amends laws, with the exception of those which should be enacted by the NPC, partially supplements and amends laws enacted by the NPC when it is not in session, and interprets the laws. Since 1979, the Standing Committee of the NPC has enacted over 280 laws, and the standing committees of local people's congresses have drawn up over 3, 000 local rules and regulations .

5 “Special Committees” of the NPC
The special committees, both permanent and provisional, are organs representing the NPC. When the NPC is in session, the main work of the special committees is to study, examine and draw up related motions. When it is not in session, they work under the direction of the NPC Standing Committee. Currently, there are eight permanent special committees, the Nationalities Committee, Law Committee, Financial and Economic Committee, Educational, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, Overseas Chinese Committee, Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs and Committee on Environmental and Resource Protection.

6 People's Procuratorates of the PRC
Article 130 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China provides that the PRC establishes the Supreme People's Procuratorate, local people's procuratorates at different levels, the military procuratorates and other special people's procuratorates. Nature and Tasks Article 129 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China states that the people's procuratorates are state organs for legal supervision. By exercising their procuratorial authority, the people's procuratorates “suppress all treason, attempts to split the country or other counterrevolutionary activities, and prosecute counterrevolutionaries and other criminals. Their purpose is to safeguard the unity of the country, the people's democratic dictatorship and the socialist legal system; to maintain public order, including order in production and other work, in education and scientific research, and in the daily life of the people; to protect the socialist property owned by the whole people and by collectives and the private property lawfully owned by individuals; to protect the citizens' rights of the person and their democratic and other rights; and to ensure the smooth progress of socialist modernization.”

7 People's Procuratorates of the PRC (cont’d)
Functions and Powers The people's procuratorates exercise the following functions and powers: procuratorial authority in cases of treason, of attempts to split the country and of other major crimes that violate state policies, laws, decrees and administrative orders; investigate cases involving graft, infringement of citizens' democratic rights, dereliction of duty and other cases which they deem necessary to handle directly, and decide whether to arrest the offenders and initiate public prosecution; review cases investigated by the public security organs and state security agencies and decide whether to approve arrest and whether to prosecute; supervise the investigation activities of public security organs and state security agencies to determine whether they conform to the law; initiate and support public prosecutions of criminal cases; supervise the criminal trials of the people's courts to determine whether they conform to the law; supervise the verdicts and sentences of the people's courts in criminal cases to determine whether they conform to the law; in cases where they find definite errors, lodge protests in accordance with the procedure for appeal; supervise the execution of sentences in criminal cases and the activities of prisons, houses of detention and institutions in charge of reform or rehabilitation through labor to determine whether they conform to the law; exercise legal supervision over trials of civil suits by the people's courts; exercise legal supervision over administrative litigation and; protect citizens' legal right to lodge complaints or petitions against state functionaries who violate the law; investigate the legal responsibility of those who infringe upon other citizens' rights of the person or their democratic or other rights; deal with the citizens' accusations, reports of wrongdoing and petitions.

8 People's Procuratorates of the PRC (cont’d)
Organizational Structure (i)The Supreme People's Procuratorate (ii)Local People's Procuratorates These include: -people's procuratorates of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government; -branches of the above, and people's procuratorates of autonomous prefectures and cities directly under the provincial governments; and -people's procuratorates of counties, cities, autonomous counties and municipal districts. (iii)Special People's Procuratorates There are two types of special people's procuratorates – military and railway (iv)The Procuratorial Committee Each people's procuratorate has a procuratorial committee. The committee is expected to institute the system of democratic centralism and, under the direction of the chief procurator, to discuss and decide important cases and other major issues, on the principle of the minority being subordinate to the majority. If the chief procurator disagrees with the majority's decision on an important matter, it is referred to the standing committee of the people's congress at the corresponding level for final decision.

9 Supreme People's Procuratorate of the PRC
The Supreme People's Procuratorate is the highest procuratorial organ of the state. It's main functions and powers are as follows: direct the work of the local people's procuratorates at the various levels and that of the special people's procuratorates; exercise procuratorial authority in major criminal cases that have an impact on the entire country; lodge a protest, in accordance with the procedures for judicial supervision, if some definite error is found in a legally effective verdict or sentence by a people's court at any level; supervise the activities of prisons, houses of detention and institutions in charge of reform through labor; supervise trial of civil suits and administrative litigation; interpret laws applied to procuratorial practice; formulate regulations, provisions and rules for procuratorial practice; determine the organizational structure and staff size of the people's procuratorates at all levels.

10 Supreme People's Procuratorate of the PRC (cont’d)
The Supreme People's Procuratorate consists of the following departments: Criminal Procuratorial Department Procuratorial Department for Embezzlement and Bribery Procuratorial Department for Dereliction of Duty and Infringement of Citizens' Rights Procuratorial Department for Railways Procuratorial Department for Prisons and Reformatories Procuratorial Department for Civil and Administrative Cases Procuratorial Department for Accusations and Petitions

11 Supreme People's Court of the PRC
The Supreme People's Court is the highest judicial organ in China and is responsible to the NPC and its Standing Committee. It independently exercises the highest judicial right according to the law and without any interruption by administrative organs, social organizations or individuals. Its structure comprises a judicial committee, or the highest judicial organization, and courts or the No.1 Criminal Tribunal, the No.2 Criminal Tribunal, the Civil Tribunal, the Economic Tribunal, the Administrative Tribunal, the Complaint and Appeal Tribunal and the Communication and Transportation Tribunal.

12 Supreme People's Court of the PRC (cont’d)
Responsibilities: According to the Constitution and statutes, the Supreme People's Court is charged with three responsibilities: First, trying cases that have the greatest influence in China, hearing appeals against the legal decisions of higher courts, and trying the cases the Supreme People's Court claims are within its original jurisdiction. Second, supervising the work of local courts and special courts at every level, overruling wrong judgements they might have made, and deciding interrogations and reviewing cases tried by the lower courts. Third, giving judicial explanations of the specific utilization of laws in the judicial process that must be carried out nationwide.

13 From State Dept. 2011 Human Rights Reports on PRC
Deterioration in key aspects of the country’s human rights situation continued. Repression and coercion, particularly against organizations and individuals involved in rights advocacy and public interest issues, were routine. Individuals and groups seen as politically sensitive by the authorities continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel. Efforts to silence political activists and public interest lawyers were stepped up, and, increasingly, authorities resorted to extralegal measures including enforced disappearance, “soft detention,” and strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members, to prevent the public voicing of independent opinions. Public interest law firms that took on sensitive cases continued to face harassment, disbarment of legal staff, and closure.

14 From State Dept. 2011Human Rights Reports on PRC (cont’d)
Other human rights problems during the year included: extrajudicial killings, including executions without due process; enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention, including prolonged illegal detentions at unofficial holding facilities known as “black jails”; torture and coerced confessions of prisoners; detention and harassment of lawyers, journalists, writers, dissidents, petitioners, and others who sought to peacefully exercise their rights under the law; a lack of due process in judicial proceedings; political control of courts and judges; closed trials; the use of administrative detention…. The authorities prosecuted a number of abuses of power, particularly with regard to corruption. However, the internal disciplinary procedures of the CCP were opaque, and it was not clear whether human rights and administrative abuses were consistently punished.

15 PRC Attitudes on DP A 1995 study revealed “that the overwhelming majority of Chinese citizens hold affirmative attitude towards the death penalty” Quoting Hu Yuteng “On the Death Penalty at the Turning of the Century,” in M. Nowak and Xin Chunying (eds), EU-China Human Rights Dialogue: Proceedings of the Second EU-China Legal Experts, Seminar Held in Beijing on 19 and 20 October 1998 (2000), pp at

16 Striking “Hard” The existence of ‘strike hard campaigns’ and determination to make examples of various types of offender Inevitably certain individuals at certain times and in particular parts of the country are selected for execution for smuggling, fraud, running prostitution rackets, for robbery, corruption, tax evasion, and other offenses Example Strike Hard Campaign: Spring 2001 From April – July 2001: 1,781 executions By end of 2001: 2,468 executions (just from Strike Hard)

17 Striking “Hard” – Part 2 Most drug-related executions taking place on International (anti-)Drugs Day: 221 executions for drug offenses recorded by Amnesty Int’l in 1999, 196 (89%) took place in the last week of June A fine way to celebrate the holiday (June 26)?

18 Capital Offenses in the PRC Which Would Not Merit Death in Other Nations
Execution for armed robbery (reports last from 1990) economic crimes such as corruption, embezzlement, and fraud trading in illicit drugs kidnapping smuggling piracy publishing and selling obscene materials smuggling forged money tax- and VAT-related offences public order offences trafficking in women and children

19 Informational Problems
Art. 212 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law of 1997 provided for the publication of every execution of a death sentence, and all courts have to prepare written records of the executions, yet no statistics on capital punishment are published, being still considered a state secret

20 Deterrence? China claims that deterrence is working and says that death penalty is responsible (for example) for the decline in the rate of recorded crime from 8.9 crimes per 10,000 people in 1981 to 5 per 10,000 in 1987.

An Atypical Case? CHEN GUOQING, YANG SHILIANG , HE GUOQIANG , ZHU YANQIANG Confessions extorted through Torture - Presumption of Innocence - Retrials for "insufficient or unclear evidence" Four times sentenced to death for murder and robbery by the Chengde City Intermediate People’s Court between 1996 and 2003; · Three times the Hebei High Court overturned the original sentence (s), and sent the case back to the Intermediate Court for re-trial "on the grounds that the facts were not clear"; · All four defendants stated to the court that their confessions had been extracted under torture and that they were forced to confess to the charges made against them. · Awaiting a final verdict (as last reported in 2009!) pending an appeal against the fourth sentence. The four defendants’ case was tried for the fourth time on 21 July 2003, this time by the Hebei Province High People’s Court sitting as the court of first instance, apparently in response to the authorities’ exasperation that the intermediate-level court could not reach a sound verdict. During the public hearing, all four men were reportedly permitted to submit their alibis to the court, as well as present the wounds sustained during their torture to the court, and to state the names of the police officers who tortured them. One report claims this was the first time the co-defendants had physically been able to show their scars, having appeared in court on all previous occasions wearing handcuffs.

22 A Few Other Cases The Chinese media has given widespread coverage to two relatively recent wrongful convictions – 1. A butcher executed for murder in 1989 was proved innocent when his alleged victim was found alive; 2. A man (She Xianglin ) was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 11 years for the murder of his wife, who suddenly showed up alive and well one day; however, he was presumed guilty from the start and ultimately received compensation from the government for physical and emotional harm suffered during the course of his wrongful imprisonment.

23 Fluctuations in DP Rates
Prior to the revision of the Criminal Law in 1997, there were many reports of executions occurring within 6-8 days after arrest Since then there have been some incidents of accelerated trials: In Shenzhen, April 1998, at a large public sentencing rally 14 out of 40 defendants were sentenced to death and then escorted to the execution ground straight after the rally to be shot. When Strike Hard campaigns are in progress, for example in Spring 2001, police, prosecutors, and lawyers are urged to speed up the process of criminal trials even more.

24 Fluctuations in DP Rates (cont’d)
Fluctuations in the death penalty can be seen month-by-month in China, as seen in 1999: 135 executions in January (before Chinese New Year) 41 in March 381 in June (Anti-Drug Day Marathon) 91 in August 4 in October 26 in November

25 Erosion of SPC Review Power
in February 1980, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress made the following decision: For serious crimes such as homicide, rape, robbery, bombings and arson, to which the death penalty could be applied, provincial higher courts had the right to impose the punishment with authorization from the SPC. In 1983, the decision was written into the revised Organic Law of the People’s Courts of China. Subsequently delegated this right in drug trafficking cases successively to five local higher courts including Guangdong Province, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Sichuan Province. When the Criminal Procedure Law was revised in 1997, the SPCC was still the sole organ to review death penalty rulings. Does delegation of the death penalty review right to lower courts go against the Constitution. Organic Law of PCC is just a general law, while the Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law constitute the fundamental law. Does the constitution allow general law to violate a fundamental law? Local courts may adopt different standards in the award of the death penalty. Hence, a criminal who may face capital punishment in one locality may escape the same fate in another one. According to current laws, death penalty for criminal cases, such as homicide and rape, is subject to review by provincial courts, while capital punishment for economic crimes and crimes threatening state security can be reviewed by the SPC.

26 Relevant Provisions of ICCPR
Article 6 Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. 2. In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court. * * * 4. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. [emphases added]

27 The International Status of the DP
ABOLITIONIST AND RETENTIONIST COUNTRIES More than half the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Abolitionist for All Crimes Abolitionist for Ordinary Crimes Only 12 Abolitionist in Practice 24 TOTAL Abolitionist Countries 120 Retentionist Countries EXECUTIONS AROUND THE WORLD In 2004, there were at least 3,797 executions in 25 countries around the world. China, Iran, the United States, and Viet Nam were responsible for 94 percent of these known executions. The following countries executed defendants in 2004 (most figures are only of confirmed executions): Most Executions in CHINA (At least 3,400 Executions) 2. IRAN (Approx. 159) 3. VIET NAM (Approx. 64) 4. UNITED STATES (59)  

28 Extra-Judicial Killing
Torture in police custody Reform Through Labor Use of Force: Tiananmen Square Massacre Against “terrorists” in Xinjiang: detaining and torturing Muslims in Xinjiang by labeling them either “separatist” or “terrorist” for engaging in “illegal religious” activities Soldiers firing on peaceful protesters: Demonstration in Gulja in February 1997 resulted in death or serious injury. Local people were protesting for equal rights for Uighurs when security forces used violence to break up the protest. Several people were shot and demonstrators were reportedly hosed down with icy water Against “separatists” in Tibet Beatings of Falungong Members

29 SPC review of death sentences
China's top court “regained” power to review death sentences at the end of the last decade The authorities moved to stem criticism that the death penalty was too widely used The Supreme Court passed its right to review to lower courts in the 1980s, and a series of subsequent miscarriages of justice subsequently come to light. The Supreme People's Court set up three branch courts in order to conduct the reviews, according to Chinese state media

30 SPC Death Penalty Review Begins
From January 1, 2007, the SPC was supposed to review all death sentences in China. Three criminal tribunals were set up as a supplement to the existing two, and the review team has been expanded, according to the court. New members are selected from local courts, lawyers and law schools, and must finish a three-month training at the Supreme People's Court. They serve on probation for a year before officially assuming office. Details of the review process. Each case is to be reviewed by a team of three judges. They will be required to check the facts, laws applied and criminal procedures adopted. Any testimony extracted through illegal means will be declared invalid. During the review, judges must arraign the defendants face to face, and present their separate judgments and reasons in writing. If the case is very complicated or there are doubts over the facts, judges can visit the place where the alleged offense took place to check details.

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