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George Washington University Law School

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New legislation passed by NPC Standing Committee

The 17th Session of the 10th National People's Congress Standing Committee met at the end of this month and passed several items of legislation on Aug. 28. I discussed one of them, the revised Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women, in a previous posting. Here are the other items:

  • A Law on Notaries was passed. I confess I haven't taken the time to read this carefully. The Ministry of Justice issued an Implementing Suggestion the same day.
  • A Security Administration Punishment Law (治安管理处罚法) (SAPL) was passed. This is essentially a revised version of the Security Administration Punishment Regulations (治安管理处罚条例) last revised in 1986. (An explanatory article can be found here.) Despite the new label ("law" instead of "regulations"), both were passed by the NPC Standing Committee, and thus the new document doesn't seem to have a higher legal status than the old one. Glancing quickly through the SAPL, I noticed a couple of interesting points:
    • The maximum detention period remains at 15 days; the maximum fine is almost always 1000 yuan.
    • Some provisions have been added to help the police keep track of who's where: Art. 56 makes it an offense for hotel operators to fail to report the presence of persons they know (明知) to be criminal suspects or wanted by the police.
    • Prostitution seems to be going down the road to decriminalization. In the 1986 SAPR, it was "strictly forbidden" (严厉禁止) to engage in prostitution (on either side of the transaction), and the punishment was generally detention for up to fifteen days and/or a fine of up to 5000 yuan. The SAPR further authorized punishment through a sentence of re-education through labor (劳动教养), which can be up to three years plus an additional fourth under certain circumstances. The SAPL has backed off considerably from this.  The language specifically forbidding prostitution and consorting with prostitutes is completely gone. Instead, there is just a bland statement of the offense and its punishment, which remains at up to 15 days and/or a fine of up to 5000 yuan (which of course is a lot less now than it was in 1986). The prospect of re-education through labor is gone. And a new provision states that where the circumstances are "minor" (a possibility not even contemplated in the 1986 SAPR), the punishment shall be detention for up to 5 days or a fine of up to 500 yuan.
  • Several minor treaties and conventions were ratified, but not the one that everyone is waiting for: the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

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