Published: 11:31, December 28, 2023 | Updated: 11:31, December 28, 2023
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Collective punishment 'should be abolished'
By Cao Yin

Top legislature clarifies that some local notices are contradicting the rule of law

Practices resulting in the collective punishment of the family members of convicted criminals should be abolished, as they contradict the principles and spirit of the Constitution, China's top legislature said on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislative body, received some residents' suggestions requesting a review of local notices in which some criminals' spouses, children, parents and close relatives had been restricted in education, employment and social insurance.

The residents flagged the restrictions as collective punishments, calling for a stop to such practices.

"Following a review, we deemed the notices not consistent with the Constitution, nor with laws on education, employment and social insurance, so we urge relevant departments to abolish the documents," said Shen Chunyao, head of the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission.

He mentioned the issue while introducing and explaining a report on normative document review to lawmakers at an ongoing session of the NPC Standing Committee.

"Criminals should be liable and punished for their own misconduct, meaning that others shouldn't be implicated in the penalties. It is a basic principle of rule of law in modern society," said Shen.

To prevent similar situations and ensure compliance with the rule of law, he added that self-examination should be supported and encouraged across the country.

Data released by the report showed that the NPC Standing Committee received 2,827 such suggestions requesting reviews of potentially problematic documents, such as administrative regulations and judicial interpretations, from residents and organizations this year.

Meanwhile, 1,319 normative documents were also submitted by government departments and judicial authorities to register at the NPC Standing Committee's General Office, according to the report.

Shen said that the commission meticulously reviewed all registered documents and public suggestions, with intensified oversight on whether they align with the Constitution, in order to uphold the authority of the fundamental law and guarantee its implementation.

Documents that conflict with the Constitution have been addressed by urging timely corrections, abolitions or replacements with new provisions, he said.

In addition, the commission has also required the modification of inconsistencies with higher-level laws in local regulations related to livelihood and the environment, so as to better protect people's legitimate rights and strongly fight pollution, he added.

In the report, a number of residents and enterprises suggested reviewing some regulations made by local governments that completely ban the sale and use of fireworks.

After a review, the commission found that there are no prohibitive provisions for the sale and use of fireworks in the Air Pollution Prevent and Control Law, as well as in the firecracker safety management regulation formulated by the State Council. Instead, governments at county or above level are given the right to designate restricted or prohibited times and areas for setting off fireworks.

It can be seen that the complete ban is inconsistent with the law and the higher-level document, so local regulations should be modified, Shen said, adding that the regulation makers have agreed to revise them in a timely manner.

On Monday, a 22-article draft decision on improving the system for recording and reviewing normative documents was also submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for deliberation.

While further clarifying what documents are identified as normative documents, the draft states that documents should be handed over to the NPC Standing Committee within 30 days of being made public.