China: Food Safety Violators to Face Death Penalty

There have been many food scandals in China over the past few years. Recently, China’s Supreme People’s Court has come out with harsher penalties for food safety violators and their accomplices. From CNN:

In a directive released by the state-run Xinhua news agency over the weekend, the Supreme People’s Court said in cases where people die from food safety violations, convicted suspects should be given the death sentence, while criminals involved in non-lethal cases should face longer prison terms and larger fines.

It also called for harsher punishment for government officials found protecting food safety violators or accepting bribes from them.

“The overall food safety situation is stable and improving, but incidents that still occur regularly have seriously endangered people’s lives and caused strong social reactions,” the directive quoted Wang Shengjun, the country’s top judge, as saying. “Our task to maintain food safety remains challenging.”

The Court has also issued additional new, tougher guidelines for food safety violators. From Xinhua:

Unrelenting food safety scandals have prompted the country’s legislative body to take action. The Supreme People’s Court says tougher punishments for food safety crimes have now been amended into criminal law.

Pei Xianding, Judge of Supreme People’s Court said “Under the new Criminal Law, anyone involved in food safety crimes will face at least term imprisonment. The new amendment also lifts the cap for fines. These people need to understand such illegitimate deals could cost them their entire fortune.”

The amendment also targets the negligence of supervision.

Pei Xianding said “The strictest punishment used to be seven-years in prison. Now it’s ten.”

But in cases where food poisoning leads to death, the Supreme People’s Court advised that the death penalty be issued. From AFP:

In notice on Friday the Supreme People’s Court urged harsher penalties for manufacturers who produce tainted foodstuffs and for food inspectors convicted of dereliction of duty.

“Those food safety crimes leading to fatalities or any other serious aftermath should be sentenced to death in accordance with the law,” the notice said.

The order was issued after China eliminated capital punishment for some economic crimes in February, as it moved to curb use of the death penalty in a nation believed to execute more people than the rest of the world combined.

But a wave of food scares seems to have prompted the harsher penalties as safety problems continue despite government promises to clean up the food industry following a deadly 2008 milk scandal.

May 30, 2011 2:12 PM
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