Lawyers have suggested the addition of a "slavery" crime in the
Criminal Law in the wake of last month's labor scandal that shocked
In a letter submitted to the Standing Committee of the National
People's Congress (NPC) last week, the All-China Lawyers
Association (ACLA) said there were no existing laws to criminalize
slavery, and therefore it was impossible to effectively deter or
punish people for such a crime.
It was suggested that anyone found guilty of enslaving another
by means of violence or economic means should receive a sentence of
up to life in prison, Wu Ge, chairman of the ACLA's constitution
and human rights committee, who initiated the suggestion, said.
He said in an interview yesterday that although the slave trade
had disappeared, cases still occasionally arose.
"So it is necessary to make slavery a crime in law," he said,
adding that the current stipulations are too mild.
The existing Criminal Law states only the punishments for
illegal detention and forced labor, saying anyone who illegally
detains another person or forces others to work shall receive a
sentence up to three years if no severe bodily injury is
Longer jail terms or even the death penalty could be meted out
only in the case of severe bodily harm or death.
Wu said the association had received no feedback from the NPC.
Calls to the Standing Committee rang unanswered yesterday.
According to the NPC legislation schedule, the review of the
seventh amendment of the Criminal Law will take place next
However, not everyone agrees with the lawyers' suggestion.
Chen Xingliang, director of the criminal law research center at
Peking University, considers it unnecessary to add a new crime to
"It's better to revise the existing stipulations and spell out
heavier punishments," he said, adding that the crime of slavery was
actually the same in nature as forced labor.
Ma Kechang, a professor at Wuhan University who had been
involved in previous Criminal Law amendments, said in a telephone
interview that whether to add a new crime needs investigation.
"It's improper to set a crime for certain isolated cases," he
Xin Chunying, deputy chairperson of the NPC Law Committee, said
last month that the existing laws were enough to punish the illegal
kiln bosses and thugs.
The problem lay in the implementation, she said.
The use of slave workers in Shanxi and Henan provinces caused
After the exposure, police raided a kiln in Caosheng village in
Shanxi and freed 31 workers, the youngest of whom was 14. On
Wednesday, five people went on trial for it on the charges of
illegal detention, forced labor and assault. No verdict has been
(China Daily July 10, 2007)