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Justice must be upheld in every case

By Wang Zhenghua (chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2015-03-13 16:31:32


An editorial in The Beijing News

On Thursday morning, President of China's Supreme People's Court Zhou Qiang and procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate Cao Jianming respectively delivered their work reports to the national legislature at the ongoing annual session, asking the deputies to study them.

A major difference from their reports in previous years is that they have listed out more than 30 important cases that the judicial departments cracked down last year, which can be used as examples.

From the text, it seems to be just a change in the language system to write these individual cases into the reports by the "two supreme organizations". But taking into consideration the new round of judicial reforms that have been launched, we could smell a change in judicial minds.

The judges are required to be more professional, while the administration of justice needs to get closer to the public. It has become increasingly common that individual cases that draw widespread attention can trigger discussion and observation by millions of residents.

For sure, only quite a handful of cases can draw such widespread attention. Chinese courts live broadcast more than 80,000 hearings last year, making around 6.3 million court decisions public online. But these broadcasts or decisions drew much less attention compared with the hot cases.

For the general public, it is more interesting and easier to pay attention to individual case than the dull law clauses. By following individual cases, people can find themselves in others' stories. By its very nature, the Web users' interest in hot cases comes from the care about themselves.

The hot cases associate only with individuals involved in them, but the system and judicial practice will exert influence on how people will act.

If a young man was wrongfully convicted and executed just because he was the first to discover the crime and reported it to the police, the injustice will inevitably lead to such consequences: most people might take on an irresponsible attitude of standing aloof from similar crimes on the ground that they are not concerned.

Only by seeing the justice in each individual case can one set up confidence in the overall judicial system. If the wrongful convictions cannot be corrected, the credibility of the judicial system will be embroiled in the dilemma of "100-1=0".

Both of the reports by the "two supreme organizations" mentioned the case of Huugjilt, a wrongful conviction corrected 18 years after the innocent young man was executed.

The chief justice Zhou Qiang expressed self-reproach for the injustice. Procurator-general Cao Jianming said that he should "reflect on himself" and vowed to find out who is to be blame when the man was arrested and prosecuted.

Correcting the wrong needs courage, so does the self-reproach and reflection. In the solemn reporting to the nation's top legislature, the "two supreme organizations" exposed their own "family scandals", and vowed to start investigation into who is to be blame.

It could be interpreted as their efforts to build a mechanism to prevent the wrongful conviction from happening and to get the wrong corrected.

There is another case in the work report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

A procuratorate in Shunping county, Hebei province, spotted a number of questionable points when examining the case involving Wang Yulei, a suspect of homicide.

As such, it revoked the evidence collected in the unlawful ways, made the decision of not arresting the suspect, and asked the police to investigate further. It helps the public security department net the real man behind the crime later.

In this less-known correction case, the timely interference by the procuratorate department prevented the case from slipping to another wrongful conviction.

Compared with the cases in which those claimed to be killed were found still alive or the real suspects show up years later, the case of Wang Yulei failed to draw much attention from the public because of the lack of twists.

But such corrections could represent better justice, and make more people have confidence in judicial system and believe that they have the freedom guaranteed by law.

It's a solid progress that individual cases are highlighted in the work reports by the "two supreme organizations". But only when justice is upheld in each individual case, can the hot cases fade out from the work reports of the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate.