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Mar022013

NPC delegate advises changing the sentence for accepting a bribe

China’s lianghui, or “Two Sessions,” has convened, and delegates from across the country have gathered in Beijing to discuss changes to law and policy. On March 3, Guangdong lawyer and NPC delegate Zhu Lieyu described his proposal for changing China’s criminal law on bribery, calling for lawmakers to lower the minimum sentence for accepting a bribe of 100,000 RMB from 10 years to one year, raising the maximum sentence from 15 years to 40 years, as well as replacing the suspended death sentence – which Gu Kailai received last year – with life imprisonment in a remote desert prison.

 

Below is my translation of Sina’s article on this proposal.

 

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NPC delegate advises changing the sentence for accepting a bribe of 100,000 RMB to one year

The average income has tripled, but the penalties for corruption have not changed, remarks Zhu Lieyu

Sina Quick Report – Special correspondents Luo Shi, Li Guohui

 “Since 1997, when the criminal laws currently in effect were established, China’s disposable per-capita income has changed greatly, and we must make corresponding changes to the standard length of sentences.” NPC delegate and Guangdong lawyer Zhu Lieyu plans to put forward his proposal, “On changing regulations requiring unreasonably long sentences for the crime of taking bribes,” in which he calls for the standard sentences for accepting bribes to be adjusted according to the actual development of China’s society and economy, and also calls for the establishment of a system to adjust the sentencing every five years.

●Suggestion #1

Accepting bribes totaling 100,000 RMB should result in one year in prison

Zhu Lieyu’s proposal points out that the average disposable income of China’s urban residents has risen to 21,810 RMB in 2011 from 5,160 RMB in 1997, while that of rural residents has risen to 6,977 RMB from 2,090 RMB, which represents an increase of 323% and 234% respectively. However, in judicial practice today, the standards of 1997, in which accepting bribes of over 100,000 RMB could result in 10 or more years in prison, are still in effect. “This is a clear example of an excessively harsh sentence,” stated Zhu Lieyu.

 “The criminal law from 1997 established ‘100,000 RMB’ as the basic standard for corruption, as it was equivalent to 50 times the yearly income of a rural resident, or 20 times the yearly income of an urban resident. With regards to purchasing power, 100,000 RMB today is the equivalent of 10,000 RMB in 1997.” Therefore, Zhu recommends that the criminal law’s sentence of at least ten years for accepting bribes of 100,000 RMB be changed to a sentence of at least one year.

He also advised that standards sentences for the crime of accepting bribes be adjusted every five years according to factors including the development of the economy and society, the living standards of the people, and the price of commodities.

●Suggestion #2

Sentences should be capped at 40 years

 “According to the criminal law currently in effect, the sentence for a single crime, excepting those laid out in Articles 50 and 69, must be at least 6 months, but no longer than 15 years.” Zhu’s proposal explains that the maximum sentence for a single crime is set too low at 15 years, meaning that sentences for the crime of accepting bribes may be restricted by that upper cap, and therefore not equal to the crime.

The proposal raises the examples of Xie Wuwei, the county party secretary of Jinggu county, Simao Region, Yunnan province, who was sentenced to 10 years for accepting a bribe of 100,000 RMB, and that of Sun Duokang, the CEO of Qinghai Investment Co. Ltd., who took bribes totalling 1,686,000 RMB and was sentenced to 10 years. The latter embezzled 16 times the amount of the former, but their sentences were exactly the same. “This kind of result is not only unacceptable to the criminals, but also to people in our society,” said Zhu Lieyu.

He recommends that the concrete standards for sentences as well as the rules for sentencing for the crime of accepting bribes be adjusted in accordance with the actual development of the economy, and that the basic standard for sentencing for the crime of accepting a bribe of 100,000 RMB be at least one year, while raising the maximum sentence for accepting a bribe to 40 years.

●Suggestion #3

Changing the suspended death sentence to life in prison in exile

The proposal states that the suspended death sentence is a special kind of punishment created by China, and it played an active role in China under certain historical conditions, but as the conditions for a suspended death sentence in our criminal law have been changed from “resisting reform and maliciously plotting,” to “intentionally committing a crime,” the suspended death sentence has become a life sentence in all but name.

Analysis within the proposal shows that criminals whose death sentences are suspended are already unable to commit crimes because they are under strict supervision, while the phenomenon of criminals being sentenced to death and having their sentences commuted has been an important reason why China still has a high rate of death sentences.

 “Criminals who receive suspended death sentences have committed crimes more serious than those who have received life in prison, but less serious than those who have been sentenced to death and are set to be immediately executed.” The proposal therefore recommends that the suspended death sentence be changed to life in prison in exile. “Changing the suspended death sentence into a life in prison in exile sentence, sending prisoners to specially designated national prisons in the northwestern desert or Gobi desert where living conditions are hard, will allow for prisoners to still serve life in prison while receiving additional punishment, and will also greatly lower the rate at which death sentences are given in China, demonstrating China’s policy of appropriately applying the death penalty.”

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