Domestic News

Deputies seek clarity on self-defense


TOP legislators called for judicial authorities to exercise extreme caution when deciding what constitutes self-defense in order to safeguard the rights of people to defend themselves.

Deputies to the National People’s Congress (NPC) and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) hailed prosecutors’ decisions on self-defense in two recent cases.

“The more accurately that judicial officials interpret self-defense-related cases, the more people will be encouraged to help others in need,” said Zhang Qingbin, an NPC deputy from Hebei Province who received a national good Samaritan award in 2015.

Zhang, 62, has helped many people involved in traffic accidents since he began driving a taxi in 2015. He has even assisted police in the capture of 20 suspects.

He said he was excited when he learned that prosecutors had decided not to charge Zhao Yu, who injured a man while trying to stop an assault in December last year.

The Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued a decision Friday, saying Zhao would not be held criminally liable because his actions could be defined as justifiable self-defense.

On Dec. 26, 2018, a man surnamed Li broke into an apartment of a woman in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, and physically assaulted her. After hearing a call for help, Zhao, who lived upstairs, went down to stop the attack, according to a local police statement.

When Zhao tried to help the woman, he was punched by Li twice. Zhao fought back, pushing Li down and kicking him in the stomach. The kick injured Li and he required surgery the next day, according to the statement.

On Dec. 29, Zhao was detained for causing serious injuries and was granted bail Jan. 10, 2019, it added.

The case sparked heated online discussion on why a good man was detained. Friday’s decision, in NPC deputy Zhang’s opinion, was a good sign and shows that prosecutors are cautious in determining when self-defense should be considered excessive.

On Sunday, prosecutors in Hebei Province also decided not to charge a couple who injured a man threatening their daughter in 2018. Though the man eventually died from his injuries, the couple’s behavior was determined to be justifiable self-defense.

Zhou Guangquan, another NPC deputy, welcomed the decision, but said situations in which self-defense should be considered excessive need to be further specified.

The Supreme People’s Court announced it would interpret the matter in September.

“The move should be accelerated,” added Zhou, also a law professor at Tsinghua University.

NPC deputy Sun Xianzhong, a law researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, “Our laws cannot only ask people to call police in case of emergency. The laws should also highlight their rights to protect themselves when being attacked.”