Experts Call for AIDs Law

For the first time in China, legal experts are calling for those purposely spreading AIDS to be punished. They say China needs a specific law for this problem, so those responsible are brought to justice.

In many countries, intentionally spreading AIDs is a crime, but not in China, said criminologist Han Yusheng from China Renmin University.

Han said China's current criminal law stipulates that those who intentionally spread venereal diseases should be punished by law.

But as AIDs doesn't fit into the venereal disease category, this law cannot be applied.

This gap in legislation has caused a lot of difficulties to judicial departments when dealing with the problem.

China now has over 500,000 reported cases of AIDs. Among the sufferers, some were intentionally infected by other AIDS victims. For instance in Beijing, one AIDs positive drug-dealer cut and infected a member of the police drug squad. But because the law was lacking, he escaped punishment.

Although legal experts agree that such actions are clearly criminal, they can't decide what exact legal term should be applied to the crime.

One category the crime could come under is intentional injury, according to Han. He said another option is to write a completely new law specifically for the spread of AIDS.

Whatever choice is made, Han noted, the emphasis must be on punishing such behavior and increasing public awareness of it.

But he added that the first, and most important, step is to amend the existing law to include a penalty of at least 15 years imprisonment for the crime.

At present, he hopes that National People's Congress, China's legislative body, will approve the legal experts' proposal.

(CRI News 10/27/2000)

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