Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished for Corruption?|Be for

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 感恩亲情 点击:

  Chinese officials who had committed economic crimes began to flee overseas between the late 1980s and early 1990s. Although China has signed extradition treaties with 25 countries, including Thailand, Belarus, Russia and South Korea since 1993, it has not finalized such treaties with European and North American countries. Therefore, Western countries, particularly Canada and the United States, have become the favored places of asylum for corrupt Chinese officials.
  The death penalty on China’s mainland is the main reason why European and North American countries haven’t signed extradition treaties with China. According to international practice, if a criminal might be sentenced to death, he or she will not be extradited.
  On April 29 this year, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) ratified an extradition treaty with Spain, the first between China and a Western country. The treaty marks a major breakthrough in China’s international cooperation in the judicial field by recognizing and accepting the international practice of not repatriating criminals who might be sentenced to death.
  Meanwhile, there are suggestions that China should abandon executions of those fugitive corrupt officials. At the annual NPC session in March, some deputies suggested the death penalty be gradually abolished for most economic crimes, such as smuggling, theft, corruption and bribery.
  The proposal has attracted much attention and controversy. Those who agree with the proposal believe that abolishing the death penalty will help to bring criminal suspects back under China’s legal jurisdiction, and that only in this way can embezzled money and property be recovered and national interests be safeguarded. If repatriation cannot be achieved, punishing these corrupt officials is impossible and justice cannot be realized.
  But those disagreeing with the suggestion say corruption in China is rampant since criminals are let off lightly, and the death penalty must be maintained. If there is no severe punishment, corruption will get out of control.
  
  Abolish the death penalty for corruption
  
  Wang Minggao (head of a research group studying methods for punishing and preventing corruption): It is easy to say “kill all corrupt officials,” but actually that will not solve any problem. So we must put it in a rational way.
  Abolishing the death penalty for corruption will help to track down fugitive corrupt officials. As these officials are in high positions, it is easy for them to embezzle state property and flee overseas.
  Based on international practice, however, criminals who face a possible death sentence will not be repatriated. It has become an obstacle for China to chase and capture fugitive corrupt officials. People with rational minds can understand that it is better to take more practical measures to bring the fugitives back under China’s own legal jurisdiction than to let them off under the shelter of “no repatriation of criminals under a death sentence.”
  
  China’s extradition agreement with Spain accepts the term of “no repatriation of criminals under a death sentence.” The treaty marks a major breakthrough in China’s international judicial cooperation.
  Abolishing the death penalty is helpful for punishing corrupt officials. In contrast to a set prison term or imprisonment for life, the death penalty is brief and violent, and brief violence cannot always end corruption and frighten criminals.
  Let’s take a look at Chinese history. The most severe crackdown on corruption was ordered by Zhu Yuanzhang, first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Yet he remained puzzled until his death about why he could not put an end to corruption.
  In the real world, the death penalty is not necessarily the most effective form of punishment. Sometimes, the loss of one’s freedom, money and reputation is more painful than the fear of losing one’s life. More importantly, it will alarm other potentially corrupt officials.
  Abolishing the death penalty for corruption will help bring Chinese laws into line with international law. So far, more than 100 countries and regions have legally or practically abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes, including corruption. Even nations that maintain the death penalty seldom execute corrupt officials. Viewed from a global perspective, abolishing the death penalty is a historical trend.
  Of course, we suggest ending the death penalty for corruption not because other nations have done it and we must follow suit, but because we should follow a path in accordance with Chinese practice.
  China is a signatory to such international treaties as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Its abolition of the death penalty would not only tally with the conventions’ basic positions and specific clauses concerning the death penalty, but also embody China’s commitment to the international community and help advance its international judicial cooperation and mete out more effective punishment to corrupt officials.
  But since it is a complex issue that will take time to resolve, while conducting research on the abolition of the death penalty, we have also focused our study on the establishment and improvement of the credit-monitoring system, the financial real-name system and the reporting system for family property. We believe that only when we establish a sound corruption prevention and punishment system that lays equal emphasis on education, system building and supervision, can we truly bring corruption under control.
  Huang Feng (Director of the Research Institute of International Criminal Law, Beijing Normal University): If we rely on opinion polls, the death penalty will never be abolished. But “no repatriation of criminals under a death sentence” has become a basic principle of international extradition cooperation.
  If we don’t sign extradition treaties with such countries as the United States, Canada and Australia--the main destinations for corrupt officials--there is no legal basis for China to conduct extradition cooperation with these countries. So it is pressing for China to sign bilateral extradition treaties with these nations. Of course, we can take some alternative measures, such as repatriating illegal immigrants, but that does not always work.
  
  In addition, the death penalty can exert only a limited influence on non-violent economic criminals. Corrupt officials would rather die after losing their illegal income and reputation. That is why the suicide rate is relatively high among corrupt officials. So it is enough to let corrupt officials become bankrupt in both finance and reputation.
  
  Abolition cannot check corruption
  
  Chen Zhonglin (Dean of the Law School at Southwest University of Political Science and Law): Abolition of the death penalty for non-violent criminals is the developing trend in China’s criminal law. But I don’t think it should be done under the reasoning that it would make it easier to bring corrupt officials back home for trial.
  First of all, those who commit crimes directly threatening public security, such as murder, arson, robbery and rape, deserve repatriation even more than those guilty of corruption. So we cannot phase out the death penalty for violent criminals just because of the issue of repatriation.
  Second, the extradition issue can be solved without abolishing the death penalty. We can, in accordance with common international practice, stipulate in agreements that the death penalty will not be carried out, as a precondition of repatriation. In fact, China usually does not apply the death penalty to corrupt criminals, even to those convicted of large-scale bribery. This would help avoid the unfair result that “those who fail to flee abroad are killed and those who succeed in fleeing abroad can survive,’’ a phenomenon that does encourage corrupt officials to flee abroad.
  Moreover, for those exempt from a death sentence because of repatriation, we could stipulate no release on probation or a release on probation after serving a sentence of at least 20 years, to reduce the negative influence.
  Third, corruption is the most harmful non-violent crime. When the death penalty has not been abolished for other non-violent crimes, it is unfair to eliminate the death penalty for corruption and it would have a very bad impact on society. The reasoning that the “death penalty cannot do much to control corruption” is groundless. Life is the most precious thing to the majority of people. It doesn’t make sense to say a person is willing to trade his life for other things.
  Xie Wangyuan (professor of international criminal law at Renmin University of China): The principle of “no repatriation of criminals under a death sentence” should not have a big influence on the extradition of corrupt officials to China. Though some countries may use it as an excuse, China can promise not to apply the death penalty when negotiating with them about extraditing corrupt officials. In fact, China has successfully solved many repatriation cases through this method.
  I agree with phasing out the death penalty for non-violent ordinary crimes, including corruption and bribery. But it is worth noting that corruption and bribery are still rampant in China and are much resented by the general public. To ordinary people, the application of the death penalty for corruption and bribery is not excessive, but too little.
  As a matter of fact, abolishing the death penalty for corruption runs counter to public opinion. Therefore, lawmakers and scholars should have a correct understanding of the present national situation.
  Liu Tingji (professor of international law at China University of Political Science and Law): “No repatriation of criminals under a death sentence” cannot be termed an international principle. I think it is kind of a media show.
  So far, more than half of the countries in the world have the death penalty. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said that the extradition treaty between China and Spain in which China promised for the first time to exempt criminal suspects who had fled to Spain from the death penalty will not be the standard for future treaties with other countries.

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