Chinese Commentator Reviews Implementation of the State Compensation Law

January 7, 2005

In a commentary published in the Procuratorial Daily, Wang Songmiao reviews the implementation of China’s State Compensation Law (SCL) in the ten years since it became effective. The SCL establishes a legal right to monetary compensation when administrative or criminal justice organs violate certain rights of individuals or legal persons.

Wang observes that the law sounds good and has some symbolic importance, but that it has been of little practical use. To back up his point, he notes that in 53 cases of illegal "extended detention" uncovered in Beijing, only one person applied for state compensation and that in some provinces, nobody has applied for state compensation at all. He argues that few people apply for state compensation because many parties experience significant hardships obtaining a compensation award, only to have government organs refuse to honor the awards. In other cases, law enforcement organs settle in private with claimants to avoid losing face. Finally, Wang argues that state compensation standards are too rigid and too low, resulting in awards that do not fully compensate victims for their damages. He concludes when the law is amended, drafters should focus on adjusting compensation standards and revising procedures to avoid these common problems.