On June 29, President Xi Jinping signed an order of special pardons pursuant to the decision adopted by the 11th Conference of the 13th National People’s Congress to grant special pardons to some prisoners serving sentences.
These special pardons follow those that were granted on the occasion of the 70th anniversary for the victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in 2015 and have major political and rule-of-law significance.
These special pardons are also decided by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in accordance with Article 67 of the Constitution. Pursuant to the Article 80 of the Constitution, the President of the People’s Republic of China is to issue a special pardon order pursuant to the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
Compared with the special pardons in 2015, there are five additional categories of criminals that are receiving special pardons: Category III, which covers those that have made relatively substantial contributions to major national projects and have received honorary titles such as “Model Worker,” “Advanced Worker” or the “May 1 Labor Medal” from an authority at or above provincial and ministerial level after the founding of the People’s Republic of China; Category IV, for those who have served as active servicemen and have received personal first-class merits and above; Category V, which are those who have been sentenced to up to three years in prison or have a remaining prison term of less than one year for excessive self-defense or excessive risk prevention; Category VIII, which are female prisoners who have been widowed with underage children or with seriously disabled children needing their parental support, and have been sentenced to three years in prison or have a remaining prison term of less than one year; and Category IX, which are prisoners who have passed at least one-fifth of their probation period for parole or who have been put under surveillance.
In addition, these special pardons also specified circumstances where special pardons shall not be granted. For example, certain criminals who meet some of the requirements for a special pardon may not be pardoned if they (1) have committed a crime as military servicemen for breach of their duties; (2) whose remaining prison term exceeds ten years and whose life imprisonment or death sentence reprieve is still being carried out; (3) had previously received special pardons before being sentenced for another criminal offense; (4) refused to confess and repent their crimes; and (5) have been assessed to be subject to five types of circumstances where they are not eligible for special pardons for posing a real danger to society. The above provisions are made because the criminal nature of the offense is more serious and the risk of recidivism is greater, hence the need to continue the rehabilitation, or because although the offense is serious and the risk of recidivism is present because the prison term is short, or because the possibility of recidivism is greater due to the greater subjective malice involved, hence the need to continue the prison rehabilitation.