Prosecutors urged to pay more attention to justifiable self-defense

Updated: Sep 23, 2021 China Daily Print
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Chinese prosecutors have solved a number of cases involving self-defense in recent years and should further uphold justice by identifying instances of justifiable self-defense, an official from the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the country's top prosecuting authority, said on Wednesday.

"The public have always paid great attention to issues involving self-defense and whether their behaviors can be identified as justifiable defense, as they have bigger demands on safety and the rule of law," Miao Shengming, head of the SPP's first procuratorial office, told reporters.

He said the legal provision for justifiable self-defense in the Criminal Law was rarely applied by judicial authorities until 2018, when prosecutors in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, identified an incident in which an electric bike rider stabbed another man to death as self-defense.

Bike rider Yu Haiming got into an argument with a driver named Liu Hailong when they were waiting at traffic lights in August 2018.During the argument, Liu got out of his car and kicked Yu, and also retrieved a knife from the car to slash at Yu several times.

When the knife fell from Liu's hand, Yu grabbed it and fought back against Liu, who later died from his injuries.

After an investigation, prosecutors in Kunshan identified Yu's behavior as constituting justifiable self-defense and said he should be exempt from criminal liability, explaining that a person being attacked could not be expected to make rational judgments in such an emergency.

Prosecutors have dealt with similar incidents since then, "and the proportion of cases in which justifiable self-defense has been identified has increased significantly", Miao said.

In the last two years, 819 people were not detained or prosecuted after their behaviors were identified as justifiable self-defense, Miao said, adding that the number was about three times as many as in 2017 and 2018.

Zhao Li, a criminal lawyer from Beijing, said judicial departments had, in the past, been insufficiently brave in identifying justifiable self-defense, an important provision in the law, because some criteria were too strict and others were too vague.

But after judicial authorities specified several situations in which self-defense could be deemed justifiable last year and people's awareness of the rule of law was enhanced, "the legal provision has been 'awakened'," he said.

Although the country has seen achievements in solving cases involving self-defense, he suggested prosecutors be more confident when applying the legal provision to uphold justice and advance law-based governance.

Besides making more efforts to protect people's lawful rights, prosecutors across the county have intensified the fight against serious violent crimes in recent years to keep the public safe and promote the development of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, Miao said.

From January 2013 to August this year, 619,000 people were prosecuted for violent crimes, including intentional homicide and robbery, while offenses involving property, gambling, drugs and pornography and those involving organized crime were also combated relentlessly, he said.


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