Serious Polluters Could Face Death Penalty in China

After record-breaking levels of air pollution in Beijing added to the mounting environmental concerns that often erupt in public protest (recently exemplified by PX demonstrations in Kunming and a swiftly quashed rally in Chengdu), China’s new leadership has declared “ecological progress” to be a top priority. In March, a carbon-trading pilot scheme was unveiled in Shenzhen, and a proposed greenhouse emission cap was rumored to be on the horizon. China Daily reports on the “severe punishments”  China’s courts can now hand out when enforcing environmental regulations:

A new judicial explanation took effect on Wednesday guaranteeing the enforcement of environment-related laws and regulations, which has long been lax and superficial in China.

The country’s supreme court and procuratorate jointly issued the new judicial explanation on Tuesday that imposes harsher punishments on polluters. In the most serious cases the death penalty could be handed down. [Source]

Reuters looks elsewhere in China’s state media for more on now-possible death penalties for the country’s most serious polluters:

A new judicial interpretation which took effect on Wednesday would impose “harsher punishments” and tighten “lax and superficial” enforcement of the country’s environmental protection laws, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

“In the most serious cases the death penalty could be handed down,” it said.

“With more precise criteria for convictions and sentencing, the judicial explanation provides a powerful legal weapon for law enforcement, which is expected to facilitate the work of judges and tighten punishments for polluters,” Xinhua said, citing a government statement. [Source]

A continued “growth first” mentality has been noted to undermine the leadership’s stated goals of “ecological progress.”  China—still the global leader in death penalty use—begins to use the death penalty to dissuade illegal pollution as ongoing judicial reforms strive for a more “prudent application” of capital punishment.