Authorities to stamp out power abuse

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-16 06:59

A top legal official has stressed that the establishment of special bureaus tackling civil servants' dereliction of duty and abuses of power shows the authorities are ready to deal with the problem.

Twenty-four such bureaus have so far been established at the provincial level since the Supreme People's Procuratorate ordered the renaming and upgrading of the anti-dereliction and infringement sections of procuratorates to bureaus in May last year.

In the latest development, procuratorates at all levels in Shanghai finished the upgrade this month.

The upgrade means that these bureaus have the same status as anti-corruption bureaus and gives them more powers during investigations.

In line with the upgrade, the Supreme People's Procuratorate issued a regulation on the definition and categorization of dereliction and infringement crimes this July.

"To some extent, dereliction crimes bring more harm than embezzlement," Song Hansong, deputy director of the anti-dereliction and infringement department of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, was quoted by the People's Daily as saying.

Dereliction of duty and abuses of power mean activities by civil servants that cause the loss of State assets or infringe upon people's rights.

Unlike other kinds of corruption such as taking bribes or embezzlement, dereliction often does not bring direct benefits to officials and is therefore referred to as "corruption that does not make its way to the pocket."

An analysis of cases in 1998, 1999 and 2000 shows that the average economic losses involved in embezzlement cases were 258,000 yuan (US$33,000), while the sum in dereliction cases was 2.85 million yuan (US$364,000), Song said. "This doesn't even include the harm caused to people's health," he told the paper.

The new bureaus deal with as many as 42 crimes, many more than the 12 crimes overseen by anti-corruption bureaus.

Song said corruption is always linked with dereliction and the abuse of power.

"Judging from the cases in recent years, corruption always lurks behind dereliction and the abuse of power, while bribery always encourages officials to abuse their power," he was quoted as saying.

Officials guilty of dereliction of duty are often involved with serious production safety accidents, food safety crisis or suspects' false confessions, the paper reported.

Eleven dereliction cases involving 88 people have been uncovered in connection with a series of serious mining accidents that claimed hundreds of lives this year, Song said.

In these cases, the guilty officials often failed to conduct safety inspections or protected the owners of illegal coal mines.

At a meeting last month, Li Yizhong, minister of the State Administration of Work Safety, said dereliction of duty and corruption would always be investigated whenever an accident occurred.

Song said the biggest obstacle in terms of the inspection of the dereliction of duty is a prevalent lack of knowledge of the grave consequence of these crimes.

(China Daily 12/16/2006 page1)

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