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Laws on Illegal Tree Felling to Be Revised
Senior legislators are considering revising the Criminal Code to render harsher punishment for illegal tree felling and the occupation of woodland.

The existing stipulation, in the Criminal Code, on the illegally chopping down trees and denudation has contributed to the protection of forest resources, said Yang Jingyu, director of the Legislative Affairs Office with the State Council.

However, it has become a rampant practice in some places with woodland being reclaimed as farmland, he added.

The Criminal Code, revised by the National People's Congress (NPC) in 1997, does not have corresponding charge against such a practice.

The law does stipulate against the illegal occupation of plowland. Yang's office has found that the crimes of the illegal occupation of woodland and plowland have similar elements.

But it is impossible to quote these articles to punish such practices because the 1997 Criminal Code abolished the application of analogy and stipulates that no action is punishable unless it is clearly written in the law.

The State Council is consequently asking the 22nd session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislative body, to incorporate the crime of illegally occupying woodland into articles banning the illegal occupation of plowland.

The proposed amendment is likely to be voted in by legislators on Saturday when they close the session, providing there are no opinion differences among them.

The lawmakers are expected to vote on draft amendments to the laws on judges and public prosecutors as well.

Another three draft laws on rural contracted land, the prevention and control of occupational diseases and the management of maritime space were also submitted to legislators Tuesday for first reading.

During the five-day session, lawmakers will also have a second round of deliberations over draft legislations on sand prevention and control as well as family planning.

A draft legislation usually becomes a law after three readings by lawmakers, according to China's Legislative Procedure Law.

They will hear reports on the final state accounts of last year, the performance of last year's central budget and financial auditing from the State Council as well as a report on the Securities Law enforcement examination by the Standing Committee.

(China Daily 06/27/2001)

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