Amended state liability compensation law adopted

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China's parliament Thursday adopted amendments to the State Compensation Law that grant citizens greater power to obtain compensation when their rights are violated by the state.

The amendments, to take effect on December 1, were approved at the end of the four-day bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, or the top legislature.

When a citizen is harmed through "state negligence," the state must compensate the citizen, according to the amendments which expand the scope of state compensation, China University of Political Science and Law Prof. Ma Huaide said.

Zhang Gang, a lawyer at Beijing-based law firm Haodong, said "state negligence" is currently a major defense for administrative or judicial organs to deny liability and prevent victims from obtaining compensation.

The amendments also eliminated another obstacle for plaintiffs to be compensated.

The current law stipulated victims should first apply for state compensation at the department which caused the loss, and what is more, in some cases, the citizen must first obtain written approval from the department before applying for compensation.

Zhang said officials refuse to compensate as granting compensation is seen as admission to having violated the law. "If the government denies violating the law, the courts have to dismiss the case," he said.

To address the problem, the amendments remove the approval requirement and allow victims to directly apply for compensation, Ma, who sat on the board of experts drafting the law, told Xinhua.

The law amendments also include compensation for psychological injury for the first time. But the amendments do not specify how such injuries and damages are to be assessed, even though several lawmakers have suggested clearer definitions during previous readings.

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