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
"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
(China Daily 12/16/2006 page1)