An amendment to the 15-year-old State Compensation Law, meant to be a cornerstone of the protection of human rights in the mainland's faulty criminal justice system, was approved by the National People's Congress Standing Committee in April last year and came into effect on December 1.
It obligates the authorities to pay compensation if they arrest Chinese citizens whose cases are dismissed, exempted from prosecution or result in acquittals. And for the first time, the law now includes mental damage in calculating compensation, orders the authorities to return fines or confiscated money and to pay interest on suspects' money frozen in banks.
Professor Ma Huaide, vice-president of the China University of Political Science and Law, said legal experts used to poke fun at the old State Compensation Law, saying it should be called the 'state non-compensation law'.
'It was too difficult for eligible victims to get state compensation due to a high threshold, low compensation standard and narrow scope,' the Nanfang Daily quoted Ma as saying.
Liu Hengjun, vice-director of Guangdong Higher People's Court, told mainland media the province had heard only 1,000 cases that needed state payouts from 1995 to 2009, with just 30 million yuan (HK$35.61 million) paid to victims.