Amnesty bal­anced act of con­fi­dence and hu­man­ity

China Daily (Canada) - - VIEWS -

The Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, China’s top leg­is­la­ture, has de­cided to set some con­victs free as part of the ac­tiv­i­ties to mark the 70th an­niver­sary of the vic­tory of Chi­nese Peo­ple’s War of Re­sis­tance Against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion (1937-45). The move is in line with China’s con­sti­tu­tional amnesty sys­tem and will make the oc­ca­sion more cel­e­bra­tory for some. Grant­ing spe­cial amnesty to con­victs is a uni­ver­sal prac­tice, which usu­ally is done be­fore ma­jor na­tional fes­ti­vals and com­mem­o­ra­tive oc­ca­sions or af­ter sig­nif­i­cant po­lit­i­cal changes in a coun­try. An­nounced be­fore the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the vic­tory in the fight against fas­cism, the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee de­ci­sion is aimed at re­mind­ing peo­ple that they should re­spect history, op­pose war, cher­ish peace and make ef­forts to pre­vent a re­peat of the tragedy of seven decades ago.

Af­ter 30-plus years of re­form and open­ing-up, China has made huge eco­nomic and so­cial achieve­ments, which in turn have con­sid­er­ably in­creased its na­tional strength and im­proved peo­ple’s lives. In this sense, the amnesty granted to some con­victs shows China is con­fi­dent of its de­vel­op­ment path, the­ory and sys­tem thanks to the Party’s rul­ing ca­pa­bil­ity. Also, the amnesty granted to con­victs will boost peo­ple’s morale.

Although only cer­tain types of con­victs will be granted amnesty, the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee de­ci­sion will make all the peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate the coun­try’s moral power and thus in­still in them a greater sense of pa­tri­o­tism. It will also help peo­ple bet­ter un­der­stand the na­tional spirit of for­give­ness and play a role in re­duc­ing so­cial dishar­mony and con­tra­dic­tions, which in turn will help build a har­mo­nious so­ci­ety.

The amnesty de­ci­sion, which comes 40 years af­ter a sim­i­lar move in 1975, was made fol­low­ing strict pro­ce­dures, which in­clude the top leg­isla­tive body mak­ing a de­ci­sion, the head of state is­su­ing a man­date and the courts pre­par­ing a list of pris­on­ers el­i­gi­ble for spe­cial amnesty. The top leg­is­la­ture’s move sends a mes­sage that the gov­ern­ment re­mains com­mit­ted to “gov­ern­ing ac­cord­ing to the Con­sti­tu­tion and laws”; it will help en­hance peo­ple’s con­sti­tu­tional and le­gal aware­ness, too.

Ac­cord­ing to the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee’s draft de­ci­sion, four cat­e­gories of con­victs, in­clud­ing those who took part in the­War of Re­sis­tance Against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion or the na­tional war of lib­er­a­tion, and those above or be­low cer­tain ages will get spe­cial amnesty. The re­lease of such pris­on­ers be­fore the com­ple­tion of their sen­tences is another proof that China ad­heres to the con­sti­tu­tional spirit, and re­spects and pro­tects hu­man rights. And it will give the lie toWestern ac­cu­sa­tions against China on hu­man rights.

The pro­posed amnesty de­ci­sion shows China deals with con­victs in a hu­mane man­ner and treats dif­fer­ent crimes dif­fer­ently— le­nient to­ward some but strict with oth­ers. At a time when the coun­try is in tran­si­tion and so­ci­ety faces threat from crim­i­nals, grant­ing amnesty to cer­tain types of con­victs will help de­velop a sci­en­tific ap­proach to­ward crimes and penal­ties.

More­over, as a sup­ple­ment to the penalty sys­tem, the prac­tice of amnesty will help im­prove the re­sponse mech­a­nism to crimes by strik­ing the right bal­ance be­tween pun­ish­ment and le­niency. Also, this will mo­ti­vate other pris­on­ers to change their at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iors in or­der to fully re­form them­selves so that they too get amnesty.

Gao Mingx­uan is the honorary pres­i­dent and Zhao Bingzhi the pres­i­dent of China Crim­i­nal Law So­ci­ety.

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