Long way to go to achieve rule of law

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 23, 2014
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Mass public arrest and sentencing in southern Hunan Province sparked controversy among observers, who argued whether or not the move was effective in reducing crimes.

The trial, held last Friday in Huarong county, Yueyang city, saw 15 warrants for arrest announced and eight sentences delivered in the presence of nearly 1,000 "ordinary people", local authorities said.

Photos online also showed suspects and convicts were taken to the scene by a truck. Standing on the truck, they each had a plate hung on their necks to tell their names and the crimes they had allegedly committed.

An official with the committee of political and legislative affairs in Huarong, who declined to be named, told Xinhua "the move was aimed to reduce crime, encourage people to abide by law and create a safe and stable social environment".

This is not the first time public arrests and sentencing were made in Huarong. Before this event, at least four public sentencing meetings had been held since 2009.

Some Internet users applauded the practice. "We should also bring the corrupt officials to public, hang such a plate on their necks and parade them through streets," said one nicknamed Zhenkeyi on China's portal website Sina.

But more disagreed, saying it was against the rule of law.

"This is entirely the 'rule of man' mentality," said another Internet user Wu Xueren. "A society with the rule of law should protect the basic rights of the criminals, as well as the ordinary people."

"It is possible that some suspects may be found innocent finally," said Yin Fuqiang, a lawyer in Beijing. "Even if they are guilty, their right of reputation and privacy should not be infringed."

Public sentencing and parading criminals through the streets has a long history in China. Criminals in the old days were taken by a wooden patrol wagon along the streets, often as a kind of humiliation, to the place of execution.

During the Cultural Revolution, the "counterrevolutionists" were also paraded and denounced publicly.

China banned such action in 1988.

China Youth Daily wrote an editorial Thursday saying "it is curious that such ancient rituals are still performed today."

"It has been 36 years since the reform and opening up in China, but this serves as a negative example to the rule of law."

The rule of law was made the countries basic approach to crime in 1997 at the Fifteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Chinese President Xi Jinping believed it the basic resort for governing the country.

The fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which ends Thursday, made rule of law its central theme for the first time in the Party's history.

The meeting urges to form a system serving "the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics" and build a country under "the socialist rule of law".

The country will enhance the protection of human rights in judicial procedures, according to a document issued by the meeting.

"However, this case shows that many people in China, even local law executors, still believe the rule of man," said a net user Irobot. "The mindset of Chinese people doesn't change easily, and we have a long way to go to achieve the rule of law in China." Endi

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