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4 Conclusions: How Far Has the Movement Progressed in China?

4 Conclusions: How Far Has the Movement Progressed in China?

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9  New Strategies for the Better Prevention of Wrongful…



Moreover, the tradition of tolerating the use of all evidence of guilt should be

abandoned. If investigation remains at the core of the criminal process, police

officers may abuse their power to illegally extort confessions, unless prosecutors

or courts apply the necessary checks on police behavior or exclude such confessions from use. If such evidence is not usually excluded, the police may be

encouraged to collect it contrary to law and justice. Once the court trial becomes

the core of the criminal process, no illegally-obtained evidence should be used to

obtain convictions. Even if it is the key evidence of guilt, any illegally obtained

evidence should be examined and excluded by prosecutors or courts as required

by law. Given its illegal means, such evidence would not be tolerated by either the

police or the prosecutors, or at least they would not tolerate its use as often. Facing

the risk that their key evidence might be excluded from use, the police would lose

their motivation for obtaining evidence illegally.

Abandoning the tradition of tolerating illegally obtained evidence also helps

remove incentives for prosecuting or hearing cases based on evidence provided

by police investigators, which actually put police investigation as the center of the

entire process and thus is called the investigation based process. In implementing

exclusionary rules, the police, prosecutors and courts should check potential errors

in police evidence, in order to prevent illegally obtained evidence from leading to

wrongful convictions. But in fact, the three institutions usually closely cooperate

with each other to convict the accused based on any police evidence. If exclusionary rules could be strictly implemented, police investigation during which illegally

obtained evidence was produced would have not been dominated in the entire process, and thus future wrongful convictions might have been effectively prevented

from frequent occurrences.

Some NPC representatives and professors have recommended that more efforts

be made to prevent the police from illegally extorting the false confessions that

frequently lead to many wrongful convictions.34 The new measures they recommend include prosecuting investigators who illegally extort confession by criminal

law. In fact, the poor implementation of the relevant legislation has long left much

room for police to abuse their power when collecting evidence, which seems to

challenge the effectiveness of introducing further measures. As Director LI Dajin

of the Beijing Tianda Republican Law Firm has expertly argued, the authorities

have institutionally regulated judicial misconducts and the key to the success of

any new laws or regulations is determining how to implement them in reality,

rather leaving them as norms on paper.35 To find ways to better implement the

laws, it is necessary to determine the reasons why investigators depend on confessions to solve cases. These reasons can be gleaned from the case study as follows:

34See



WANG Yiyin & YIN Hong, Improving Mechanisms for Preventing and Rectifying Wrongful

Convictions [jianquan jiufang yuanjia cuo’an jizhi], Guangming Daily [guangming yibao]

(15 March 2015), available at: http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/xinwen/2015-03/15/content_1928728.htm.

35See WANG Yiyin & YIN Hong, Improving Mechanisms for Preventing and Rectifying Wrongful

Convictions [jianquan jiufang yuanjia cuo’an jizhi], Guangming Daily [guangming yibao]

(15 March 2015), available at: http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/xinwen/2015-03/15/content_1928728.htm.



9.3  Policy Recommendations on the Strategies: From Investigation to Trial



273



In the Huugjilt case, the local police induced him to confess and tortured him

against law to obtain his confessions. Their decision to do so resulted from the low

costs and the high rewards of doing so. When investigating true facts and evidence

in the case, police officers encountered with obstacles to obtaining forensic evidence, so they took Huugjilt’s oral confessions as the convenient alternative discovering the evidence that might have exonerated him. As revealed by a former

police inspector of the Hohhot Police, DNA comparison was not available to the

local police in 1996, and they had to pay a lot for forensic examination in Beijing

or Shanghai, which would have taken a few months to complete.36 They were also

so short of funds for handling cases that policemen had to personally buy their

own equipment from police departments operating under the provincial government. Confessions were more convenient for them to obtain than evidence from

expensive and time-consuming examinations.

Once confessions are admitted by courts as evidence for conviction, police

officers who extorted confessions, even through inducement, torture or other illegal means, often benefit from their “successful” detection and solution of cases.

This was also the case in the Huugjilt case. Those who illegally obtained the

evidence from him during investigation actually won collective awards for their

quickly solution of the major case after the innocent was convicted based on such

evidence. The high benefits they can obtain often motivates police investigators to

take advantages of collecting evidence illegally, regardless of consequences. By

law, they should be held accountable or punished for their misconduct, but, unfortunately, there is little prospect of bringing them to justice, much less punishing

them.

The defence’s chance of successfully excluding illegally obtained evidence

has long been slim in most circumstances. As early as in 1996, when the Huugjilt

case occurred, the authorities hastily arrested, prosecuted and convicted him based

on such evidence. With investigation at the core of the process, the local police

presumed the person who reported the crime to be guilty of it, and also illegally

extorted evidence of rape and murder that Huujilt never committed. Although he

told prosecutors the truth of his innocence and police inducement, they still prosecuted Huugjilt as speedily as possible and never checked police work, despite

many doubts in the facts and evidence. Biased prosecutors working with the police

for the same goal totally accepted the evidence of his guilt without examining

police misconduct. Similarly, courts were also unwilling to exclude the evidence

from use, and swiftly convicted him as an alleged murderer at trial.

Cases like that of Huugjilt are not rare, but frequently happen in Chinese justice

practice. Under the pressure of some Party or government leaders, the local police,

prosecutors and courts usually work together as a team when handling cases, without applying the required restraints on evidence examination.

36The Loss of Evidence in the Injustice of Inner Mongolia, New Developments on the Huugjilt

Case of the Inner Mongolia Injustice [neimeng yuan’an zhengju diushi neimeng yuan’an huge

jile tu an xin jinzhan], KEKEGOLD [keke huangjin wang] (4 November 2014), available at:

http://www.kekegold.com/yule/rdxw/2014-11-04/307494.html.



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Particularly during “Strike Hard” campaigns, some Party or government leaders

even pressed prosecutors and courts to intervene in the investigation of major

cases and to prematurely rely on documentary evidence to swiftly approve of

arrests, prosecutions or lower court decisions. Such campaigns are very likely to

be introduced again, with different targets or a different name in future. Although

a new penal policy has been introduced by the CCP in its document since 2006,37

the influence of the old “Strike Hard” policy still persists in practice. After the

adoption of the new policy in 2006, for instance, the MPS developed new rounds

of national Strike Hard Campaigns in 2010 and in 2014. Frequently reintroducing

this old practice appears to constitute the possible custom of abusing the new one

in order to meet the actual need of crime control.

Once major cases occur, local prosecutors who intervene early in the stage of

police investigation can help to quickly prepare for the approval of arrests. Courts

who learn case details much earlier than the trial may be ready to conduct the trial

swiftly once it is brought before them. Thus, the three institutions’ close cooperation actually places police investigation, rather than court trials, at the core of the

process for efficiently solving the cases.38 Without examination in a court hearing,

there is not much chance that illegally obtained evidence will be excluded.

For preventing the use of illegally-obtained evidence from leading to wrongful

convictions, prosecutors must supervise judicial activities and correct police errors

by excluding such evidence. Some professors have recommended that prosecutors

should thoroughly supervise and check police investigation during their examination for prosecution, in order to exclude such evidence from use and not to prosecute cases based on it.39

9.3.1.2 To Enhance Incentives for the Trial Based Process

On the other hand, incentives that put court trials at the core of the criminal process should be highly enhanced. At the very least, the judiciary’s independence

needs to be enhanced through new reforms. Some NPC representatives have



37See



The CCP Central Committee’s Decision on Some Major Issues Concerning the

Construction of a Harmonious Socialist Society ([zhonggong zhongyang guanyu goujian shehui

zhuyi hexie shehui ruogan zhongda wenti de jueding]), News Agency (18 October 2006), available at: http://cpc.people.com.cn/GB/64093/64094/4932424.html.

38See GU Yuefei, Policemen Recalled the Details of the Huugjilt Case, Who Were Ever

Criticized that “You Cannot Do Anything” [minjing yi hu’an xijie ceng beima nimen shaqiu dou

nong bucheng], BEIJING NEWS [xinjing bao] (20 November 2014), available at: http://news.

sohu.com/20141120/n406197748.shtml.

39See XIE Wenying & YANG Liu, To Prevent Wrongful Convictions Being Prosecutorial Organs’

Duty [yanfang yuanjia cuo’an jiancha jiguan zewu pangdai], Prosecutorial Daily [jiancha ribao]

(13 March 2015), available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/lianzheng/2015-03/13/c_127577203.htm.



9.3  Policy Recommendations on the Strategies: From Investigation to Trial



275



proposed the creation of the independent trial mechanism for promoting courts to

resist pressure from governments or party committees that control their personnel,

financial and material resources.40

In many cases of wrongful conviction, courts have often favoured the prosecution over the defence and did not exclude illegally-obtained evidence provided by

the police or prosecutors at trial or in appeal. The judges’ behavior results from the

undue pressure of governmental or party leaders. Their negative influence often

misleads courts to refrain from checking police or prosecutorial misconduct to

admit illegally-obtained evidence and to follow the judicial tendency to act with

police officers and prosecutors as a team for crime control. Only by escaping outside pressure can courts independently exclude such evidence from use and impartially decide cases based on facts and law. More measures need to be taken in

order to ensure courts’ independence at trial or in appeal.

As NPC representatives and professors have expertly recommended, the independent trial mechanism for resisting outside pressure will require courts and

procuratorates to regularly report any forms of the illegal interference with court

trials in specific cases to the Standing Committees of local People’s Congresses.

This recommendation is designed to isolate each court trial’s independence from

outside influence and further minimize the risk of wrongful convictions resulting

from illegally extorted confessions. As the SPP chief prosecutor also pointed out,

the procuratorates should strictly supervise investigative activities and cautiously

review confession-based convictions in murder cases.41 These calls not only urge

prosecutors to exclude the evidence obtained illegally during investigation from

use, but also encourage courts to independently hear cases based on facts and evidence, rather than just following the lead of other.

Moreover, the right to defence should be fully safeguarded and greatly

improved in order to better defend justice for the accused and prevent the innocent

accused from being convicted at trial. Some lawyers recommend better implementation of laws and regulations on defence counsels’ right to practise law.42 They

also propose that the authorities should be compelled to give legal aid to the

accused if he or she wants it. Special care should be taken to safeguard lawyers’

legal rights to investigate and collect evidence in criminal cases. Particularly in

capital cases, protecting lawyers’ rights is very necessary for promoting crossexamination between two parties and achieving the criminal trial’s core role in



40See WANG Yiyin & YIN Hong, Improving Mechanisms for Preventing and Rectifying Wrongful

Convictions [jianquan jiufang yuanjia cuo’an jizhi], Guangming Daily [guangming yibao]

(15 March 2015), available at: http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/xinwen/2015-03/15/content_1928728.htm.

41See CAO Jianming: Exploring Ways to Establish the System of Reviewing Criminal Appeal

in A Different Place [cao jianming tansuo jianli xingshi shensu yidi shencha zhidu], China

Broadcast Net [zhongguo guangbo wang] (22 January 2015), available at: http://news.xinhuanet.

com/politics/2015-01/22/c_127410291.htm.

42See WANG Yiyin & YIN Hong, Improving Mechanisms for Preventing and Rectifying Wrongful

Convictions [jianquan jiufang yuanjia cuo’an jizhi], Guangming Daily [guangming yibao]

(15 March 2015), available at: http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/xinwen/2015-03/15/content_1928728.htm.



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9  New Strategies for the Better Prevention of Wrongful…



achieving justice. Similarly, as the SPC President ZHOU Qiang further stressed,

lawyers need to fully play their key role in death penalty reviews, as an essential

part of improvements to the mechanism for preventing wrongful executions.43

In practice, the accused usually have no chance or capability to obtain evidence. Ensuring their lawyers’ rights to collect evidence and use it to defend them

in courts can help courts to find facts. For example, because he faced the authorities’ dominance over the inquisitorial process, the accused Huugjilt had no way to

protect or defend himself from injustice. Before trial, his lawyer only met Huugjilt

once in preparation for defending his innocence. At trial, which started after 9:00

am, judges asked him case details at first and only gave him a few minutes to make

statements, but ignored doubts over facts and evidence from his statement. Next,

prosecutors read the indictment against him. As judges did not allow Huugjilt’s

defence lawyers many opportunities to speak,44 one of them kept silent in court

and the other only briefly requested a lenient sentence for their client. The request

for leniency was based on Huugjilt’s guilty plea, his good attitude towards the

authorities, his minority status and his youth. After a short adjournment, the local

IPC pronounced Huugjilt guilty and pronounced a death sentence at about 10:00

am. The duration of the hearing lasted less than one hour.

Worse than the hasty trial in the first instance, in the appeal of Huugjilt’s case,

the HPC of Inner Mongolia only reviewed paper submissions when analyzing

whether the facts were unclear or the evidence insufficient. The HPC also combined the procedure for trial review in the second instance with the review process for death sentences, contrary to law and justice. Huugjilt appealed against his

conviction and sentence with the aim of defending his factual innocence. Yet, the

written approach could not help find the facts or identify illegally-obtained evidence so as to correct errors in conviction, especially given the lack of participation by defence counsel during the hearing. Thus, without the effective assistance

of counsel, the accused had no chance to defend his innocence. In Huugjilt’s case,

the courts failed to play their due role in error correction.

As with Huugjilt’s case, most of judicial or prosecutorial practices in wrongful convictions reveal the poor implementation of the relevant legislation. In order

to increase the incentives for the authorities to follow the trial based process, the

2012 CPL, which improves the adversarial system and excludes illegally obtained

evidence, should be properly implemented by justice institutions. Through

strengthening the defence’s right to defend justice and cross-examination of witnesses, implementing the 2012 CPL may change the incentive of using coerced

43See



MAN Zhaoxu & SUN Ying, The SPP and SPC Plan to Further Correct and Prevent

Wrongful Convictions in the Year of 2015 [lianggao bushu erling yiwu NIAN jin yibu jiuzheng

he fangfan yuanjia zuoan], China Boradcast Net [zhongguo guangbo wang] (23 January 2015),

available at: http://china.cnr.cn/ygxw/20150123/t20150123_517507812.shtml.

44See WANG Lili, The Inner Mongolia Victim Huugjilt’s Mother: The Judgement Being

Sentenced at Trial in Less than One Hour [neimeng gu shouhai zhe huer jile tu muqin tingshen

budao yige xiaoshi jiu xuanpan le], QLWB (31 October 2014), available at: http://www.qlwb.com.

cn/2014/1031/239502.shtml.



9.3  Policy Recommendations on the Strategies: From Investigation to Trial



277



confessions. Also, China needs to enhance the independence of court trials from

undue outside pressure and to fully safeguard defence lawyers’ rights, both of

which are the bottom line in justice practice. Even given the political goal of maintaining order, trials should still take the place of investigation as the very center of

the criminal process. Only then can facts and evidence be adequately examined

during court hearings according to law.



9.3.2 Policy Recommendations Based on the NIAN Bin Case

Similar to the policy recommendations based on the Huugjilt case, a shift from

the investigation-centered process to the trial-centered process also forms a main

part of the content of the recommendations based on the NIAN Bin case. The final

retrial, through which the wrongful conviction in this case was judicially rectified

by law, suggests the great importance of implementing the presumption of innocence, due process and effective defence during court hearings, albeit NIAN Bin

had to wait for several years before he could benefit from such standards. In order

to prevent wrongful convictions from occurring in the future, it is very necessary

for China to deepen its justice system to plug up loopholes that often hamper the

proper implementation of law.

Many politicians and scholars have recognized the need to ensure the central

role of court trials in the entire process of handling criminal cases. As lessons

from wrongful convictions reveal, the widespread phenomena of justice officers depending on oral confessions to decide cases, examining evidence based on

case files, and putting police investigation at the centre of the process, often makes

court hearings unworkable in practice. The legally required mutual restraints

between the police, prosecutors and courts are actually disregarded due to their

cooperation towards combating crimes and working against the accused. The

accused’s defence also deemed by the authorities to be a supposed enemy. Their

cooperation undoubtedly weakens lawyers’ function of defending justice for the

accused. That’s why NIAN Bin’s wrongful conviction could not be corrected by

the HPC until retrial in 2014.

In rectifying NIAN Bin wrongful conviction, defence lawyers played a leading

role in defending justice. After NIAN Bin was sentenced to death by local courts

for the third time, his elder sister found experienced defence lawyers to provide

him with adequate legal help and an effective defence. They focused on finding

witnesses to provide original testimonies. They also examined flaws in the chain

of evidence that the police presented and prosecutors adopted.45 Particularly, their

effective defence further promoted the HPC to finally exonerate the accused at

retrial, based on facts and evidence. His exoneration has indicated that defence

45See



ZHANG Yiqian, Lawyers provide free legal help to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals, Global Times [huanqiu shibao], (3 December 2014), available at: http://www.globaltimes.

cn/content/894844.shtml.



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9  New Strategies for the Better Prevention of Wrongful…



counsel can effectively help prevent or rectify wrongful convictions to a large

degree. Even the SPP’s official newspaper clearly stated that justice officers

“should not regard counsel’s practice activity as an obstacle to their handling

cases” in 2014.46

After all, a case in which an innocent accused in a murder trial is exonerated

without the “dead” victims’ returning alive, the appearance of the real murderer, or

the matching of DNA evidence with another suspect is very rare in China’s past

experience. Further substantive reforms are needed to better prevent the occurrence of future wrongful convictions. As the SPC’s official newspaper concluded

on 31 August 2014, “only through deepening justice reforms to completely

remove implied judicial rules, could judicial organs exercise their trial or prosecutorial power by law”.47 Reforms will help achieve the goal of independent trials,

as required by Article 126 of the Constitution of the PRC, so that courts can

strictly apply the exclusionary rule and truly ensure the presumption of innocence,

free from police or prosecutorial influence.

Allowing courts to conduct independent trials can promote them to play a due

role in hearing or reviewing cases by law, so as to ensure their central role in the

criminal process. To put trial at the center of the criminal process requires courts

to carry out substantive review of and effective checks on facts or evidence that are

provided by the police or prosecutors when handling criminal cases. Different

from the central role of police investigation in the process that aims at crime control, trial’s central role can prevent wrongful convictions, improve the quality of

handling cases and achieve criminal justice. Thus, many scholars propose to

deepen procedural reforms in order to ensure trial’s central role.48 Also, the SPC

vice president HUANG Ermei stressed the idea of taking trial as the center of the

criminal process in practice, in order to guarantee the quality of facts, evidence,

conviction, sentencing or procedure in accordance with the spirit of the Sixth

Criminal Trial Work Conference.49

Moreover, judges’ independence and professional safeguards need to be further

strengthened, in order to promote mutual restraints between the police, prosecutors and



46See FANG Gong, The SPP’s Official Newspaper Discussing the NIAN Bin Case: Justice

Officers Need to Often Listen to Counsel’s Opinions [zuigao jian jiguan bao tan nianbin an sifa

zhe yao duoting lvshi yijian], Procuratorate Daily [jiancha ribao], People’s Court Daily [renmin

fayuan bao], (16 September 2014), available at: http://fj.qq.com/a/20140916/054305.htm.

47See FANG Gong, The SPP’s Official Newspaper Discussing the NIAN Bin Case: Justice

Officers Need to Often Listen to Counsel’s Opinions [zuigao jian jiguan bao tan nianbin an sifa

zhe yao duoting lvshi yijian], Procuratorate Daily [jiancha ribao], People’s Court Daily [renmin

fayuan bao], (16 September 2014), available at: http://fj.qq.com/a/20140916/054305.htm.

48For example, see Ten Typical Events in 2014 during China’s Implementing the Rule of Law [erling

yisi nian zhongguo fazhi shishi shida dianxing shijian] (2 March 2015), available at: http://law.csu.

edu.cn/Secondarypage.aspx?moduleid=0501&id=0daedad4-2c07-468b-b39d-2fe7570e8944.

49See LIU Wujun, The SPC’s Official Newspaper: Removing the Implied Rule of the Justice

System [zuigao fa jiguan bao jianjue qingchu sifa qian guize], People’s Court Daily [renmin fayuan bao], (16 September 2014), available at: http://fj.qq.com/a/20140916/054305.htm.



9.3  Policy Recommendations on the Strategies: From Investigation to Trial



279



judges to the point that they are customary.50 Enhancing judges’ independence and job

security would favour the independent and impartial exercise of their trial powers.

Meanwhile, it is also necessary to improve the systems for recording, reporting and

punishing those who interfere with the administration of justice contrary to legal procedures.51 As the SPC executive vice president SHEN Deyong stated, such systems are

necessary in order to ensure independent trials. Similarly, prosecutors’ independence

and job security need to be increased to achieve justice. It is more important for the

three institutions to check and balance than to cooperate with each other.

Any forms of cooperation in their handling case must be resolutely abandoned

in practice. On one hand, judges should not cooperate with any external bodies lest

they are misled by undue influence. For instance, in the NIAN Bin case, two levels of local police in Fuzhou City jointly investigated the case under the Provincial

Police Bureau’s supervision. After NIAN Bin confessed under police torture, the

Party Committee and local government of Pingtan County praised those investigating the case and awarded them bonuses in August 2006. Given the police investigators’ awards and later promotions, trial judges followed their partners to consider

their common interests with lower courts and the relationship of their courts with

the police or prosecutors, especially due to pressure from the police. Without the

three institutions’ cooperation, many wrongful convictions can be prevented.

On the other hand, courts should not be influenced by any institution’s cooperation with them. Inside the Fujian HPC, for example, no matter what trial panel

has been composed, the trial committee is always the only one with the power

to decide whether to convict the accused or not. Since trial judges cannot decide

major cases but the committee can do so, the committee’s independence from

the police and prosecutors is also essential to ensure justice. But it is worthy of

note that the committee should not decide any cases because they do not attend

court hearings. Trial judges should make decisions, so as to actually put trial at the

center of the criminal process.



9.4 End in Sight? Expectations and Problems

for the Future Prevention

In response to the newly identified wrongful convictions, China is continuing its

deep reforms to the justice system and is giving further priority to preventing such

convictions. It undertakes these measures in order to restore public confidence

50See WANG Haojun, The Presumption of Innocence in the NIAN Bin Case Cannot End with

Praising Judges [nianbin an yizui congwu buneng zhiyu biaoyang faguan], Beijing Times [jinghua shibao] (24 August 2014), available at: http://epaper.jinghua.cn/html/2014-08/24/content_

119058.htm.

51See LIU Wujun, The SPC’s Official Newspaper: Removing the Implied Rule of the Justice

System [zuigao fa jiguan bao jianjue qingchu sifa qian guize], People’s Court Daily [renmin fayuan bao], (16 September 2014), available at: http://fj.qq.com/a/20140916/054305.htm.



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9  New Strategies for the Better Prevention of Wrongful…



in the justice system under the ruling party’s leadership. For instance, the top

authorities, i.e., the MPS, the SPC or the SPP, issued new practical measures on

better preventing wrongful convictions in 2015, as part of the implementation of

the Party’s 2014 overall plans on deepening reforms towards the rule of law. The

movement for preventing wrongful convictions is steadily preceding and constant

efforts are expected to go further. Both the expectations of and problems for the

future will be examined in detail as follows:



9.4.1 More Expectations for the Future

Given that it took China ten years on average to judicially rectify wrongful convictions in 2014,52 current justice reforms are designed not only to effectively prevent

future convictions from occurring, but also are expected to expedite the process for

identifying and correcting wrongful convictions in future practice. In order to

achieve the former expectation, it is very essential for China to fully and properly

enforce the 2012 CPL, effective 2013. To achieve the latter expectation, there is

also a need to further improve mechanisms for timely rectifying the convictions. A

series of new measures adopted since 2013 is designed to enhance trial independence from undue influence, prosecutorial supervision over police power and more

attention paid to detainees’ petition, in order to achieve faster corrections.

Specifically, some of the new reform measures are intended to prevent leading

cadres from illegally interfering with justice officers’ handling of individual criminal cases. For instance, in March 2015, the CCP Central Office and the Office of

the State Council issued the Regulation on Recording, Reporting, and Investigating

the Responsibility of, Leading Cadres Who Intervened in Judicial Activities or

Involved Specific Cases (2015 Regulation).53 The adoption and implementation of

the 2015 Regulation is part of the actual enforcement of the CCP Central

Committee’s 2014 Decision on Some Major Issues in Comprehensively Promoting

the Rule of Law [zhonggong zhongyang guanyu quanmian tuijin yifa zhiguo ruogan

zhongda wenti de jueding] (2014 Decision).54 Detailed provisions in the 2015

52See Checking Twelve Major Injustices that Were Corrected in 2014: A Need for Ten Years on

Average to Correct Errors [pandian erling yisi NIAN jiuzheng shier qi zhongda yuan’an jiucuo

pingjun xu shiNIAN], 163 NEWS [pengpai xinwen wang] (22 December 2014), available at:

http://news.163.com/14/1222/19/AE3F9B7C00014SEH.html.

53See News Agency [Xinhua she], The CPC Central Office and the Office of the State Council

Issue the Regulation on Recording, Reporting and Accountability of Leading Cadres’ Intervening

in Judicial Activities or Involving Specific Cases [zhonggong zhongyang bangong ting guowu

yuan bangong ting yinfa lingdao ganbu sifa huodong chashou juti anjian chuli de jilu tongbao

he zeren zhuijiu guiding], Central Government Portals [zhongyang zhengfu menhu wangzhan]

(30 March 2015), available at: http://www.gov.cn/guowuyuan/2015-03/30/content_2840521.htm.

54See The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Decision on Some Major Issues in

Comprehensively Promoting the Rule of Law [zhonggong zhongyang guanyu quanmian tuijin

yifa zhiguo ruogan zhongda wenti de jueding], XINHUA NET [Xinhua wang] (30 October 2014),

available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/ziliao/2014-10/30/c_127159908_4.htm.



9.4  End in Sight? Expectations and Problems for the Future Prevention



281



Regulation are not intended to punish leaders who intervened in judicial activities

or became involved specific cases, but are actually expected to protect and regulate

the independence of judicial powers from the orders of non-judicial authorities.

In March 2015, the MPS also issued the Decision on Carrying out the Spirit of

the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CCP Central Committee on Deepening the

Standardized Construction of Law Enforcement to fully Build the Rule of Law in

the Police System [guanyu guance dangde shiba jie sizhong quanhui jingshen

shenhua zhifa guifan hua jianse quanmian jianse fazhi gong’an de jueding] (2015

Decision).55 As the CCP Central Committee summarized the spirit of the Fourth

Plenary Session in its 2014 Decision, this 2015 Decision is clearly in line with the

principles of the 2014 Decision on deep reforms. Particularly, as the 2014

Decision’s new deployment, the new 2015 Decision requires police officers to

strictly follow the law and consciously accept supervision when handling cases.

As a result of the 2015 Decision, police officers are supposed to maintain state

security and social stability by legal means. The 2015 Decision further requires

that the legal training of police leaders be intensified, that police leaders be supervised and examined based on their respect for the laws in decision-making.

Furthermore, training for police leaders must be based on a combination of practical education and more abstract legal doctrine.

Similarly, as the important initiative towards the full implementation of its “rule

of law strategy”, the SPP Office for Procuratorial Work in Criminal Enforcement

issued the Guideline of Preventing and Correcting Wrongful Convictions in

Procuratorial Work of Criminal Enforcement (2015 Guideline).56 Some legal

experts hold that it provides clear and specific bases and requirements that can

guide procuratorial organs on how to exercise their supervisory powers strictly

according to law. Their due role in supervision over the criminal process is

expected to further improve the quality of case handling and to prevent the innocent from being wrongly convicted to the greatest extent possible.57 Apart from

enhanced supervision over each stage of the process, a further expansion of the

scope of procuratorial supervision over police interrogation to physical examination results of suspects before their detention, or an early investigation into

repeated petition or appeals also helps safeguard justice and human rights.

55See



ZHANG Yang, The MPS: Deepening the Standardized Construction of Law Enforcement

and Comprehensively Building the Rule of Law in the Public Security System [gong’an bu shenhua zhifa guifan hua jianse quanmian jianse fazhi gong’an], PEOPLE (20 March 2015), available at: http://hb.people.com.cn/n/2015/0320/c194063-24214098.html.

56SUN Wen & CHEN Fei, Experts Explain the SPP’s Guideline of Preventing and Correcting

Wrongful Convictions in Procuratorial Work of Criminal Enforcement [zhuanjia jiedu guanyu

zai xingshi zhixing jiancha gongzuo zhong fangzhi he jiuzheng yuanjia cuo’an de zhidao yijian]

XINHUA NET [zinhua wang] (12 February 2015), available at: http://news.163.com/15/0212/21/

AI9KGOHO00014JB5.html.

57SUN Wen & CHEN Fei, New Tactics for Preventing and Correcting Wrongful Convictions

with Detailed Rules to Strengthen Supervision [ fangyuan jiuyuan chu xinzhao qianghua jiandu

you xize], XINHUA NET [zinhua wang] (12 February 2015), available at: http://news.xinhuanet.

com/2015-02/12/c_1114354969.htm.



282



9  New Strategies for the Better Prevention of Wrongful…



It is true that the 2015 Guideline specifies the procuratorial organs’ obligations

to supervise each link of the entire criminal process. The organs are obliged not

only supervise a very broad range of criminal enforcement activities conducted

by the police, prosecutors or courts when handling cases. They are also obliged

to focus on many details regarding evidence investigation or examination, so as

to capture the crucial points of error correction in the process. Such requirements

are expected to widely enhance procuratorial supervision at a substantive level and

to greatly improve procuratorial work mechanisms for preventing or correcting

injustices. For instance, by comparing the exact difference of medical test results

when detainees entered and left the same detention centers, prosecutors will know

whether or not the detained suspect was tortured by police officers to confess.

Therefore, enhanced supervision over such details may help prosecutors exclude

the use of coerced confessions and reduce the risk of wrongful convictions.

Moreover, the 2015 Guideline includes new provisions to smooth the channels

for detainees’ appeals or petitions against their judgments. Convicts are encouraged to exercise their right to appeal, and the 2015 Guideline encourages procuratorial organs to respond to such appeals by actively investigating potential errors

in the process of justice. Such provisions are expected to improve the mechanism

for handling appeal cases or petition cases. Accordingly, detainees’ appeal should

not be misjudged as their bad attitude toward admission of guilt as usual, even if

they admitted their guilt, but their appeal should be cautiously treated as a means

of quickly discovering and rectifying judicial errors. Procuratorial personnel who

fail to act according to the Guideline should be punished by law. Thus, they should

actively investigate allegedly unjust cases in order to play the role of a safety valve

in preventing or correcting criminal injustices. Under their strict supervision over

judicial activities, errors in each link of the process could be highly reduced.

Together with the SPP, the SPC also plans to take further measures to correct or

prevent wrongful convictions from 2015 onwards.58 Apart from improving the

systems of lifelong responsibility and accountability, the SPC has taken new practical moves to correct justice institutions’ arbitrary abuse of their powers, contrary

to justice. For example, the SPC issued the Opinion on Fully Deepening Reform of

People’s Courts [guanyu quanmian shenhua renmin fayuan gaige de yijian] (2015

Opinion),59 which contain such measures. The 2015 Opinion aims to build a

socialist system of judicial powers with Chinese characteristics.60 The involved

58See



MAN Zhaoxu & SUN Ying, The SPP and the SPC Plan to Further Correct and Prevent

Wrongful Convictions in the Year of 2015 [lianggao bushu erling yiwu NIAN jin yibu jiuzheng

he fangfan yuanjia zuoan], China Boradcast Net [zhongguo guangbo wang] (23 January 2015),

available at: http://china.cnr.cn/ygxw/20150123/t20150123_517507812.shtml.

59See ZHOU Lihang & YANG Qing, The SPC issues the Opinion on Fully Deepening Reform

of People’s Courts [zuigao fa fabu guanyu quanmian shenhua renmin fayuan gaige de yijian],

CHINA COURT [zhongguo fayuan wang] (26 February 2015), available at: http://www.chinacourt.org/article/detail/2015/02/id/1557989.shtml.

60See New Agency [xinhua she], Building the Procedural System of Taking Trial as the Center

[jianli yi shenpan wei zhongxin de susong zhidu], DAZHONG DAILY [dazhong ribao] (27 February

2015), available at: http://paper.dzwww.com/dzrb/content/20150227/Articel03002MT.htm.



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