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China's amnesty rule to benefit young offenders

Xinhua, September 2, 2015 Adjust font size:

Juvenile prisoners will account for a large portion of those that will qualify for China's amnesty deal, as they stand a better chance of re-integrating into regular life, said the Supreme People's Court at a press conference on Monday.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislature, approved a prisoner amnesty deal last week.

Official pardons will be given to thousands of war veterans as well as very old, young or infirm prisoners. Those convicted of embezzlement or graft will not be considered.

Minor prisoners in the four categories of prisoners are considered those who committed crimes while under the age of 18 and received a maximum sentence of three years in prison, or who have less than a year of their prison term left to serve, with the exception of those convicted of homicide, rape, terrorism or narcotics offences.

According to Hu Weixin from the Supreme People's Court, with around 50,000 juvenile delinquency cases in China per year, minor offenders have declined from 10 percent of all crimes several years ago to 4 percent now.

The Supreme People's Court will review the current policies on trials of juvenile offenders, noted Hu.

Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, however, urged caution on Monday.

"We ensure this process is not sullied by corruption. Let us not leave out a single person who qualifies, nor grant amnesty to anyone who does not meet the conditions," Zhou said.

The amnesty deal, issued by President Xi Jinping on Saturday, is the eighth amnesty granted since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.