Reshuffle targets judicial corruption

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 June, 2009, 12:00am

A major judiciary reshuffle at the weekend is the Communist Party leadership's latest attempt to combat rampant judicial corruption and injustices following a raft of scandals that began last year.

But analysts say a change of personnel will not restore public confidence unless fundamental reform is introduced to the judiciary, which is party-controlled.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, concluded its six-day, bimonthly session on Saturday, appointing four senior officials to the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate in a major reshuffle.

Nan Ying and Jing Hanchao were named court vice-presidents. Zhang Changren and Ke Hanmin became deputy chief procurators.

Hu Kehui and Wang Zhenchuan were removed as deputy chief procurators, and five senior officials were also removed as judges or members of the court's judicial committee.

Three of the new appointees, Mr Nan, Mr Jing and Mr Ke, are graduates of Chongqing's Southwest University of Politics and Law, a cradle of the mainland's top judges and judicial officials. All have had legal training and have been top officials in both national and provincial judicial bodies.

The reshuffle came several months after a raft of scandals involving top judicial officials. Supreme Court vice-president Huang Songyou was dismissed in October after being suspected of taking bribes.

He also had a role in a land-sale corruption case in Guangdong that brought down several of the province's top court officials.

'The reshuffle suggested the party leadership's determination to clean house in the country's judicial institutions, particularly Mr Huang's case,' said Hu Xingdou, a professor at Beijing University of Technology.

But Zhang Min, a professor of politics at Renmin University, said the party would not be able to eradicate corruption within the judiciary without introducing fundamental reforms. Late last year, the party leadership approved in principle a resolution to push ahead with judicial reform, which aimed to strengthen checks and balances and to make the system more just and efficient.

The People's Supreme Court in January unveiled five rules to keep judges in line. Those who interfered in cases presided over by another judge would be transferred. They were also barred from accepting gifts from parties involved in litigation, having improper interaction with lawyers, profiting from court assessments and leaking confidential trial information.

Professor Hu said the party's committee on politics and legal affairs on all levels of government should be the first to be scrapped under reform. The committee controls judicial and law enforcement bodies and has the authority to place party officials without legal training in posts that have final power over cases.

Mr Huang, as court vice-president, supervised the civil cases division and the Office of Enforcement of Supreme Court Decisions. Among five top judges sacked on Saturday, four had worked under that office.

'The enforcement units' work is largely related to money in most civil cases and is a target for bribes and corruption,' Professor Zhang said.

Flaws in the system

Some 668 court officers breached the law last year, according to the Supreme People's Court

This number among them were jailed: 1