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The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor.

China: New Supreme Court Interpretations on Enforcement of Civil Judgments

(Apr. 26, 2017) On February 28, 2017, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) released two judicial interpretations on enforcement of judgments in civil cases.  Both interpretations will come into effect on May 1, 2017.  (Zuigao Renmin Fayuan Guanyu Minshi Zhixing Zhong Caichan Diaocha Ruogan Wenti de Guiding [SPC Provisions on Several Issues Regarding Investigation of Assets in the Enforcement of Civil Judgments] (Investigation Interpretation), SPC website; Zuigao Renmin Fayuan Guanyu Xiugai “Zuigao Renmin Fayuan Guanyu Gongbu Shixin Beizhixingren Mingdan Xinxi de Ruogan Guiding” de Jueding [SPC Decision on Revising the SPC Provisions on Several Issues Regarding Release of Information on the List of Dishonest Judgment Debtors] (List Interpretation), SPC website.)

Courts’ Investigation Methods

The Investigation Interpretation provides that there are three main sources that may be used to locate enforceable assets of a judgment debtor: sources provided by the judgment creditor, reports from the judgment debtor, and online or on-site investigations conducted by the court. (Investigation Interpretation, arts. 1 & 12.)  It was reported that through the online checking and control system, courts have access to deposits, securities, vehicles, and 13 other categories of asset information stored by more than 3,400 commercial banks and government agencies, including the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Transport, State Administration of Industry and Commerce, and People’s Bank (the central bank of China) for the purpose of enforcing judgments.  (Luo Sha, Chengzhi “LaoLai” Xian Weili [(Courts) Show Power in Punishing “Deadbeats”], PEOPLE (Feb. 15, 2017).)  In the Investigation Interpretation, the SPC states that investigations conducted through the online checking and control system have the same legal effect as on-site investigations, and electronic legal documents issued by courts carry the same legal weight as paper documents.  (Investigation Interpretation, art. 13.)

In addition, based on an application filed by judgment creditors, courts are allowed to issue announcements of rewards to be given for locating the enforceable assets of judgment debtors.  (Id. art. 21.)  Rewards will be deducted from the total amount of the enforceable assets due to be paid to the judgment creditors, or be paid by the judgment creditors if the rewards are not deductible from that total amount.  (Id. art. 24.)  The announcement letters will be posted on the courts’ online platforms and social media pages or on bulletin boards at the place of residence of the judgment debtors.  (Id. art. 22.)

Self-Reporting Requirement 

The Civil Procedure Law requires judgment debtors to report their current assets and the assets they owned in the past year.  (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Minshi Susong Fa [Civil Procedure Law of the PRC] (adopted on Apr. 9, 1991, revised on Aug. 31, 2012, effective on Jan. 1, 2013), art. 241, National People’s Congress website.)  In 2009, the SPC issued an interpretation stating that courts are entitled to issue an Assets Report Order to judgment debtors.  (Zuigao Renmin Fayuan Guanyu Shiyong Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Minshi Susong Fa Ruogan Wenti de Jieshi [SPC Interpretation on Several Problems with the Implementation of the Enforcement Process Under the Civil Procedure Law of the PRC] (adopted on Nov. 3, 2008, effective on Jan. 1. 2009), art. 31, INVEST IN CHINA.)

Reportedly, however, the self-reporting system does not work effectively due to the lack of punishment for noncompliance. (Zuigaofa: Wanshan Zhixing Guifan Tixi, Qieshi Jiejue Zhixing Nan [SPC: Perfect the Enforcement Regulation System, Conscientiously Resolve Enforcement Problems], SINA (Mar. 1, 2017).)  To address this problem, the Investigation Interpretation adds a provision stating that a judgment debtor who refuses to report his or her assets, provides false reports, or delays reporting without reasonable cause will be subject to fines, detention, or criminal liability.  (Investigation Interpretation, art. 9.)  Such a person will also be put on the List of Dishonest Judgment Debtors.  (Id. art. 10.)

List of Dishonest Judgment Debtors

The SPC established the List of Dishonest Judgment Debtors in 2013.  (Zuigao Renmin Fayuan Guanyu Gongbu Shixin Beizhixingren Mingdan Xinxi de Ruogan Guiding [Certain SPC Provisions on Releasing the List of Dishonest Judgment Debtors] (2013 Interpretation) (adopted on July 1, 2013, effective on Oct. 1, 2013), SPC website.)  Once a person is put on the List, he or she will be subject to restraints on consumption.  (Zuigao Renmin Fayuan Guanyu Xianzhi Beizhixingren Gaoxiaofei ji Youguan Xiaofei de Ruogan Guiding [Certain SPC Provisions  on Restraining Judgment Debtors’  High Consumption and Relevant Consumption] (adopted on May 17, 2010, revised on July 6, 2015, effective on July 22, 2015), art. 1, CHINA LAW AND REGULATION.)  He or she will not be allowed to take a plane or a high-speed train, purchase real estate, purchase vehicles unnecessary for doing business, send his or her children to expensive private schools, or purchase expensive insurance products.  (Id. art. 3.)

The new List Interpretation revises several provisions in the 2013 Interpretation.  First, it adds a term for a judgment debtor to remain on the List – two years in general, but extendable for another one to three years if the judgment debtor impedes or refuses enforcement by violence or threat or engages in more than one type of dishonest conduct.  (List Interpretation, art. 2.)  Second, if a judgment debtor provides sufficient guarantees for compliance with the enforcement order, he or she will not be put on the List.  (Id. art. 3.)  Third, the new List Interpretation adds a provision describing the procedures for judgment debtors to file objections and for higher courts to review the denial of such objections.  (Id. art. 12.)

Prepared by Emma Wei, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Laney Zhang, Senior Foreign Law Specialist.

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Taiwan: Removal of Statute of Limitations on Homicide Proposed in Major Reform of Criminal Code

(Apr. 26, 2017) On March 21, 2017, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice, “in a landmark legal reform,” issued a draft text for public comment on recommended amendments to the Criminal Code and to its law of implementation, among them the elimination of the country’s current statute of limitations on homicide to allow the prosecution of murders “indefinitely in the future.” (Judy Lin, New Bill to Remove Statute of Limitations on Homicide, TAIWAN NEWS (Mar. 27, 2017); Press Release, Announcement of Draft Amendments to Some Provisions of the Criminal Code of the Republic of China and of Draft Amendments to Article 8 bis and 10 ter of the Criminal Code Enforcement Act of the Republic of China (Announcement), Ministry of Justice website (Mar. 21, 2017) (in Chinese); Draft Text available from the same website (click on long rectangular window under “Download Attachment” in orange characters to view text of the proposed revisions (in Chinese).)

The 1935 Criminal Code, according to the Taiwan News, “has been heavily criticized for its outdated regulations,” leading the Ministry to recommend more than 20 amendments to it; it is anticipated that removal of the statute of limitations in connection with murder could help the authorities solve cold cases, whose solution was hampered in the past because forensic science was less advanced.  (Lin, supra.)  According to the Ministry, “the recommended amendments to remove the statute of limitations on serious crimes were modeled on legal practices in Japan and Germany, where homicide does not have a statute of limitations.”  (Id.)

Article 80 of the Criminal Code prescribes that “prosecution is barred by limitation if not exercised” within certain periods, e.g., “[t]hirty years for an offense that carries the maximum principal punishment of death or imprisonment for life or for not less than ten years.”  (Criminal Code of the Republic of China (CC) (Jan. 1, 1935, as last amended Nov. 30, 2016), art. 80 ¶ 1(1), Laws & Regulations Database of the Republic of China (toggle to “Ch” for text in Chinese).)  The proposed amendment to this provision would add the sentence, “[h]owever, if it results in homicide, the limit will not apply.”  (Draft Text, art. 80.)  The statutes of limitation of 20, 10, and 5 years, respectively for the various types of less serious crimes would remain the same.  (Id. art. 80 ¶¶ 1(2)-1(4).)  Under article 80, the specified period for a given statute of limitation will begin from the day on which the offense is committed; however, for offenses of a continuing nature, the period for the statute of limitation will begin on the last day on which the offense was committed.  (CC, art. 80 ¶ 2.)

Some Other Proposed Changes

The draft legislation also proposes that the sentence for persons convicted of taking the life of their own kin, under article 272 of the Criminal Code, be the same as that for homicide offenders, except that the term imprisonment that may be applied should be doubled.  (Lin, supra.)  Thus, article 271, on homicide, prescribes that a person who takes another’s life “shall be sentenced to death or life imprisonment or imprisonment for not less than ten years.”  (CC, art. 271 ¶ 1.)  Under the current article 272, persons who murder a family member or relative are subject upon conviction to life imprisonment or the death penalty, an inflexible prescription that “offers no room for judges to base their decision on the circumstances of the murder.”  (Lin, supra; CC, art. 272 ¶ 1.)  According to the explanatory note on the proposed revision, judges should “be able to double the length of prison sentences for those that murder their own family members in cold blood, but should take into consideration the circumstances of the murder,” e.g., handle with more lenient sentencing murderers who had “endured long years of abuse from the victim” but with much heavier sentencing those who had “planned the murder of their family members over trifling issues.”  (Lin, supra; Draft Text, art. 272.)

The current article 274 of the Code prescribes a sentence of imprisonment of between six months and five years for a mother who causes the death of her child at the time of or immediately after its birth; the draft amendment adds the phrase “as a last resort” (or, “because she had no other alternative”).  (Draft Text, art. 274.)  The explanation of the proposed change states that whether the act was done “as a last resort,” should be determined in judicial practice on a case-by-case basis, e.g., because the mother was unable to provide economic support for the child, the infant was born as a result of rape, or the newborn has mental or physical defects that cannot be treated.  (Id.; Lin, supra.)

The draft amendment proposes that the punishment under article 276 for a person who negligently causes the death of another be increased from the possible current two-year maximum sentence to up to five years, and the possible fine of up to TWD2,000 (about US$66) be increased to up to TWD50,000 (about US$1,648); the third possible punishment of short-term imprisonment is not affected by the proposed amendment.  (Draft Text, art. 276.)  The draft amendment would also entirely eliminate the second paragraph of the current article 276, which specifies punishment of persons who commit the above offense in the performance of occupational duties or activities “by neglecting the degree of care required by such occupation.”  (CC, art. 276 ¶ 2.)

Under the current Criminal Code, a person who maltreats a minor under 16 years of age or impairs his or her mental or physical health or development is subject to a sentence of up to five years of imprisonment upon conviction.  The draft amendment adds a minimum sentence of at least six months to this provision.  (Draft Text, art 276 ¶ 1.)  It also adds two new paragraphs prescribing harsher punishments when such maltreatment in itself or as a means of making a profit (punishable under art. 276 ¶ 2) leads to the minor’s death.

The public has 60 days from the date of publication of the draft amendments to comment on them. (Announcement, supra.)

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Israel: Expansion of Rabbinical Courts’ Enforcement Authority over Divorce Refusers

(Apr. 25, 2017) On April 3, 2017, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the Rabbinical Courts (Enforcement of Divorce Judgements) (Amendment No. 8) Law, 5777-2017 (Amendment Law). (SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, official gazette, SH] 5777 No. 2627 p. 593, available at KNESSET NATIONAL LEGISLATION DATABASE (in Hebrew).)  The Amendment Law amends the Rabbinical Courts (Enforcement of Divorce Judgments) Law.  (SH 5758-1998, No. 1507 p. 139, as amended (Enforcement Law) (in Hebrew).)

The Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) Law, 5713-1953, authorizes rabbinical courts to adjudicate matters of marriage and divorce of Jewish citizens and residents of Israel, in accordance with Jewish law.  (Rabbinical Courts’ Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) 5713-1953, as amended, §§ 1-2, SH 5713 No. 134 p. 165 (in Hebrew).)  While rabbinical courts may decide that the parties to a marriage should obtain a divorce, they do not have the power to dissolve the marriage.  For a divorce to be valid, Jewish law requires the consensual delivery of a get (writ of divorce) by the husband to the wife and her consensual receipt of the get.  (Jewish Divorce 101, CHABAD.ORG (last visited Apr. 24, 2017).) 

The Enforcement Law was designed to address the difficulty faced by persons whose spouses do not comply with a rabbinical court’s divorce judgment on giving or receiving a get.  To encourage compliance, the Enforcement Law provides enforcement authority to the rabbinical courts, including the power to subject non-compliers (get refusers) to imprisonment until they comply.  Imprisonment of a get refuser generally does not exceed a five-year period, which can be periodically extended to up to ten years.  (Enforcement Law § 3.)  The Enforcement Law also authorizes the rabbinical courts to issue “restriction orders” against prisoners already incarcerated either for committing unrelated offenses or for refusing to give a get.   (Explanatory Notes, Amendment Law Draft Bill, Knesset Hatsaot Hok No. 691 p. 117 (in Hebrew).)

According to the explanatory notes for the draft bill of the Amendment Law, “[a] refusal to give a get inflicts serious harm on the rights of the spouse, including his/her right to liberty, respect, and spousal relations, and sometimes even to his/her right to parenting.  That is why there is justification in imposing restrictions on a get refuser to bring him to give a get.”  (Id.)

Among the restrictions authorized by the Enforcement Law to be applied to prisoners who are get refusers are limitations on special leave, sending and receiving mail, visitation rights, paid work, purchases at the prison’s cantina, and early release.  (Enforcement Law § 2(a)(7).)   The Amendment Law provides that the rabbinical courts may also limit get-refusing prisoners from:

(10) participating in any organized educational activities that takes place in prison;

(11) receiving, according to his request, food that complies with special Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), that is not provided to all the prisoners, as long as the food provided … includes basic items that comply with such requirements;

(12) staying in a special place in prison that is designated for religious prisoners; and

(13) wearing his personal clothes; [if] the rabbinical court so ordered, the prisoner or the detainee will be forced to wear prisoner clothing in public places in or outside of prison. (Amendment Law § 1, adding subsections 10-13 to § 2(a)(7) of the Enforcement Law.)

A prisoner who has been subjected to a restriction decree may be ordered to be held in solitary confinement for a period of 14 days until he complies with the divorce judgment.  This period may be renewed every nine days if the prisoner has not complied.  The placement of a prisoner in solitary confinement, however, cannot last under any circumstances more than seven days consecutively, and there is a break of seven days between each period of solitude.  (Enforcement Law § 3A(a-e).)

The Amendment Law provides that a rabbinical court that has ordered the placement of a person in solitary confinement may also order that the prisoner may not be permitted to have any phone contact or have any writing or reading materials except for a prayer book.  (Amendment Law § 2, adding subsection (f) to §3 A of the Enforcement Law.)

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Inter-Parliamentary Union: Assembly Focuses on Parliamentarians’ Role in Fighting Terrorism

(Apr. 25, 2017) On April 1, 2017, the 136th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) began in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  The 2017 Assembly focused on parliamentarians’ role in fighting terrorism.  (IPU Assembly 2017 Begins in Dhaka, ASIAN AGE ONLINE  (Apr. 1, 2017).) The Assembly lasted for five days, ending on April 5.  According to a recent news article, a total of 1,348 delegates from 131 countries, among them 650 members of parliaments, 53 speakers and deputy speakers of legislatures, and 209 female parliamentarians attended this event.  (5-Day IPU Assembly Begins in Dhaka, DHAKA TRIBUNE (Apr. 1, 2017).)

The meeting ended with a declaration (the Dhaka Declaration) of the intention of the participants to end the inequalities around the world and to stop foreign interference in the internal matters of a sovereign state.  (136th IPU Assembly Ends with Dhaka Declaration, DHAKA TRIBUNE (Apr. 6, 2017).)

A Draft Resolution of 18 points was passed by the IPU Standing Committee on Peace and International Security with a vote of 44 to 10 and was adopted by the General Assembly.  (Id.)  The key proposal of the Draft Resolution was on the prevention of foreign interference in any country’s internal affairs.  Bangladesh, China, and India were among the 44 nations that voted in favor of the Draft Resolution; Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom voted against it. Belgium abstained. (IPU Passes Resolution to Stop Foreign Intervention in Internal Affairs, BDNEWS24.COM, (Apr. 6, 2017).)

The Draft Resolution included a provision on condemning all forms of terrorism and included human rights issues. It states that the IPU:

Strongly urges all States to fulfil their obligations under international law, to condemn terrorism in all its forms, as manifested in the invasion and occupation of territories, ethnic cleansing and displacement, the destruction of humanity’s archaeological heritage, the establishment of child armies, the abuse of women and suicide operations; these obligations include refraining from the threat or use of force and observing the territorial integrity of other States, while also respecting human rights, State sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States; … .  (The Role of Parliament in Preventing Outside Interference in the Internal Affairs of Sovereign States, ¶ 74 (Mar. 23, 2017, with amendment as suggested by Lebanon, bold highlights as in text), IPU website.)

The Draft Resolution also urges all the states to fulfill, among their other obligations under international law, those that include:

refraining from the threat or use of force, observing the territorial integrity of other States, not encouraging unrest and trouble in States’ domestic affairs, not causing any internal conflict or disturbance, and avoiding any attempt to influence a State’s national security, political, economic, cultural or social affairs, while also respecting human rights, State sovereignty and noninterference in the internal affairs of States. (Id. ¶ 75, with amendment as suggested by United Arab Emirates.)

Background on the IPU

The IPU is an international organization of the parliaments of sovereign states.  It was established in 1889, at the initiative of two parliamentarians, William Randal Cremer (United Kingdom) and Frédéric Passy (France).  The IPU was the first permanent forum for political, multilateral negotiations, and it contributed to the creation of  the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.  (What Is the IPU, IPU website (last visited Apr. 5, 2017).) The nature, purpose, and composition of the IPU are set forth in the Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.  (Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (adopted in 1976, extensively revised in Oct. 1983, as last amended in Mar. 2016), IPU website.)

The IPU, as a member organization of the United Nations since the early 1990s, “has been working closely with the United Nations to make international relations and decision-making more transparent as well as more effective.” (IPU Cooperation with the United Nations: Overview, IPU website (last visited Apr. 7, 2017).)  In the spring of 2007, to further the growing partnership between the IPU and the U.N., the IPU established a dedicated Committee on United Nations Affairs.  (IPU Cooperation with the United Nations: Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs, IPU website (last visited Apr. 7, 2017).)   A policy paper prepared at the request of the Advisory Group of the IPU Committee on United Nations Affairs and endorsed at the 117th Assembly of the IPU in Geneva in 2007 states, “[w]hile constitutional systems vary from one country to another, parliaments everywhere are the central institution of democracy.”  (Geert Versnick, MP (Belgium), On the Nature of the Relationship Between the United Nations and the World of Parliaments, IPU Document No. 34, 117th IPU Assembly (Oct. 10, 2007).)

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Brazil: New Law Prohibits the Use of Handcuffs on Pregnant Inmates During Labor

(Apr. 24, 2017) On April 12, 2017, three laws related to the treatment of women during childbirth and its aftermath were adopted in Brazil. Law No. 13.434 amends article 292 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to prohibit the use of handcuffs on pregnant women inmates during medical and hospital preparatory procedures for delivery and during labor  or on such women during the immediate postpartum period. (Lei No. 13.434, de 12 de Abril de 2017, PLANALTO; Código De Processo Penal, Decreto-Lei No. 3.689, de 3 de Outubro de 1941, PLANALTO.)  The Law entered into force on April 13, 2017, the date of its publication. (Lei No. 13.434, art. 2.)

Law No. 13,435 establishes August as the national breastfeeding month, with the purpose of educating the public and bringing awareness of the importance of breastfeeding. (Lei No. 13.435, de 12 de Abril de 2017, PLANALTO. )

The third new law amends the Child and Adolescent Statute to guarantee mothers of newborns the right to follow-up consultation and orientation from medical professionals related to breastfeeding. (Lei No. 13,436, de 12 de Abril de 2017, PLANALTO; Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente, Lei No. 8,069, de 13 de julho 1990 (as amended), PLANALTO.)

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