Chinese President Xi Jinping signs a prisoner amnesty deal in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 29, 2015. The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, adopted a prisoner amnesty deal at the closing meeting of the 16th session of the 12th NPC Standing Committee here on Saturday. Four categories of prisoners who are not deemed a threat to society and who were sentenced before Jan. 1, 2015, including criminals who fought in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and in the civil war against the Kuomintang (KMT), will be considered. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
BEIJING, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislature has adopted a prisoner amnesty deal which will see thousands of war veterans as well as very old, young or infirm prisoners granted official pardons, in a move marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Sept. 3.
The deal, promulgated by President Xi Jinping on Saturday, comes 40 years after China granted an amnesty to war criminals in 1975, and 56 years after it granted its first pardon to non-war criminals in 1959.
This is the eighth amnesty since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
Four categories of prisoners who are not deemed a threat to society and who were sentenced before Jan. 1, 2015, will be considered:
1) Criminals who fought in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the civil war against the Kuomintang.
2) Criminals who participated in wars to safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity after 1949, with the exception of those found guilty of serious crimes including embezzlement and bribe-taking, terrorism and organized crime, as well repeat offenders.
3) Criminals who are 75 or above, and those with physical disabilities who are unable to care for themselves.
4) Those who committed crimes while under the age of 18 and received a maximum sentence of three years in prison, or who have less than a year of their prison term to serve, with the exception of those convicted of homicide, rape, terrorism or narcotics offences.
The National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislature, reviewed a draft of the resolution during a bimonthly session that started on Monday. The lawmakers voted on it on Saturday.
Li Shishi, director of the committee's legislative affairs commission, made clear while briefing the session that the amnesty is designed to exclude people guilty of embezzlement and bribe-taking, as China continues a campaign against official corruption.
SEVERAL THOUSAND PRISONERS WILL QUALIFY
Judicial authorities have been preparing for the amnesty since May and estimate there are "several thousand qualified prisoners," with the oldest aged 95.
All pardoned prisoners will be released by the end of this year, said Prof. Chu Huaizhi of Peking University, one of the government's consultants on the amnesty.
The exact number of pardoned prisoners will not be known until provincial courts and prisons complete all the amnesty rulings later this year, Chu said, stressing how complicated their decisions will be.
Li urged strict and prudent selection of criminals fit for the amnesty.
Chu said all prisoners who fought in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the civil war will be more than 80 years old. Their number is very small and they do not pose a threat to society, so they should all be granted amnesty.
This amnesty reflects China's tradition of respecting the elderly and caring for the young, and it is in line with the Criminal Law, which was amended in 2011 to allow leniency in the punishment of the aged, according to the professor.
Gao Mingxuan, honorary president of the China Criminal Law Research Society, said the amnesty "shows respect for human rights."
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