China Is Set to More Than Double Jail Time for Assaulting Cops
China's national legislature is set to increase punishments for assaulting police officers, more than doubling the maximum jail time to seven years from three, in response to rising violence against police officers.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, 280 police officers and 147 auxiliary policemen died of violent assault in 2019 in the line of duty. That spurred calls for increasing the punishment for attacking police officers.
Previously, violent assaults on police officers (暴力袭警罪) were prosecuted as the crime of interfering with public functions (妨碍公务罪), with maximum jail time of three years. Draft amendments to the country's criminal law would elevate assault on police officers to a separate prosecutable charge.
The proposed amendments were released for public comment after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislative decision-making body, concluded its latest session last week.
Offenders who assault police officers with guns, controlled knives or motor vehicles and pose a serious personal threat to officers would be sentenced to three to seven years in prison under the amendments. In addition, offenders who cause major injuries or death will be convicted and punished according to a severe-case scenario.
In mid-August, Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi suggested increasing the punishment for assault on police officers during a session of the 13th National People’s Congress. Zhao mentioned that in recent years front-line police officers suffered from disruption, violence and smears in performing their duties.
Ruan Qilin, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told Caixin that the amendments would empower prosecutors to pursue violations based on the charge independently. The increase in maximum jail time signals the significance of the criminal nature of assaulting police officers, he said.
However, some experts told Caixin that they were concerned about the side effects of the amendments. One expert, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss a sensitive issue freely, said that as there have been no sufficient restrictions to balance police departments' power, elevation of the charge of assaulting police officers could make relations between the police and the public more antagonistic.
Contact editor Bob Simison (email@example.com).
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