China's draft law amendment in conformity with international conventions: experts   2011-08-30 19:42:31 FeedbackPrintRSS

The draft amendment strictly restricts the use of surveillance in places outside suspects' homes to cases involving national security, terrorism and serious bribery, and it also requires strict approval procedures, Song said.

Regarding the clauses authorizing police not to inform a suspect's family members under certain conditions, Wang said, "These clauses are an exception, and will not become regular. This is a common consensus among the Chinese legal profession."

The current Criminal Procedure Law, once revised in 1996, only stipulates in articles 64 and 71 that police should notify the family members or the employer of an arrested party or detainee about the reasons for the arrest and site of custody within 24 hours after the arrest or detention, except in circumstances where such notice could hinder an investigation or there is no way of notifying them.

The draft amendment has strengthened, not weakened human rights protection, because measures when a suspect in taken into custody, such as arrest and detention, are much harsher than residential surveillance.

As for some opinions and concerns that residential surveillance will be handled as another form of detention, experts argue that surveillance is just a police measure to keep an eye on suspects in order to facilitate the investigation.

When suspects are under residential surveillance, they can still leave the surveilled place and meet with others as long as they have obtained approval from authorities. They should answer the authorities' summons within a reasonable amount of time, and their rights to go to work or school are guaranteed.

An important goal of China's laws is to strike a balance between combating crime and protecting human rights, Song said.

The draft amendment does not violate international conventions. Instead, it is in line with the purposes of international law that advocate the protection of suspects' rights by using the fewest compulsory measures possible in criminal procedure, he said.

Legislation in China is becoming more humane, with greater attention being paid to the protection of citizens' civil rights and an increasingly cautious approach to the use of compulsory measures, Wang said.

According to the draft amendment, if a criminal suspect or defendant who should be arrested is seriously ill or is a pregnant woman or a woman breast-feeding her own baby, residential surveillance can be carried out instead of enforcing the arrest. 

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Editor: Deng Shasha
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