Top judge vows deeper reforms

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 March, 2012, 12:00am


The mainland's top judge has vowed to deepen judicial reforms this year, and has pledged to strengthen the Supreme People's Court's (SPC) oversight of the lower courts.

SPC president Wang Shengjun was delivering his annual report to the legislature yesterday.

The nation's last round of judicial reforms began in 2008, when authorities pledged that 60 items would be reformed - including pilot schemes to standardise sentences, and the exclusion of evidence secured through torture.

Wang said this year's goal was to deepen reforms of trial procedures, which included improving small-claims procedures, sentencing and the opening of trials to the public.

The SPC will also seek to enhance enforcement of judgments, and improve judicial transparency, which has come under much criticism.

'Some courts have not done well in improving the transparency of court affairs and promoting a democratic judicial system,' said Wang.

'Some judges are too slack in their jobs ... and a small number are corrupt.'

Other issues include the SPC's desire for greater control over the lower courts, and a shortage of staff at the grass-roots level. That has led to heavier workloads for judges, driving more of them to resign.

'The Supreme People's Court's supervision and guidance of lower courts needs to be more scientific, focused and authoritative,' Wang said, adding that the SPC would issue more timely guidance and examples of how to rule on certain cases.

Most of the problems with the mainland's judicial system occur at the grass-roots level, which has been a target for improvements in recent years.

NPC delegate Chen Zhonglin said it was important that the SPC was now realising it had to help fix problems at the grass-roots level.

Cao Jianming , the nation's top prosecutor, also delivered his annual report to the legislature yesterday.

He said that economic crimes, social stability and corruption were the top priorities of the procuratorate last year and this year.

Prosecutors nationwide charged 54,891 people last year for smuggling, fraud, illegal fund-raising, stock market manipulation, and ponzi schemes - an increase of 8.1 per cent from 2010.

They also probed 44,506 cases of work-related crimes, involving 2,524 officials above county level, 198 at prefecture level, and seven at provincial or ministerial level. In 2010, there were 188 prefectural-level cases and six provincial or ministerial-level cases.

Prosecutors have also stepped up punishments for those who offer bribes. Last year they investigated 4,217 bribery suspects, up 6.2 per cent from 2010.

In terms of commercial projects related to resource exploration, property transactions and government procurements, 10,542 government employees were investigated last year.

More than 130,000 people were charged with endangering public safety, about 10 per cent of all who were prosecuted last year.

In addition, 1,562 people were prosecuted for producing and selling fake and substandard medicine and food products, while 3,492 people were charged for smuggling women and children.