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Judges slated for stricter scrutiny
By Shao Zongwei (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-07 23:56

The Supreme People's Court Wednesday warned the nation's leading judges against the abuse of judicial power.

Addressing court leaders from across the country, Li Yucheng, who heads a full-time disciplinary inspection group on the Supreme People's Court, asked them to exercise their judicial and enforcement powers according to law.

They should not accept any gifts, money or invitations that might affect judicial fairness and they should bar their spouses, children and immediate staff from interfering in trials and verdict enforcement, said Li.

Li, an official from the Central Discipline Inspection Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) stationed in the Supreme People's Court, added that court leaders should also avoid nepotism in recruitment.

Corruption of some judges has already tarnished the image of China's judicial system. The report of the Supreme People's Court was passed with a relatively low approval rate at this year's session of the National People's Congress. Sources with the Supreme People's Court said court leaders are the main targets of bribers.

"Court leaders are the easiest to corrupt due to the judicial power and administrative management power in their hands," said Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court. "Therefore they should be the main targets of supervision."

A China News Service report Wednesday said that on Tuesday, Ke Changxin and Hu Changyou, former vice-presidents of the Wuhan Intermediate People's Court were sentenced to 13 years and 6.5 years imprisonment respectively for taking bribes.

According to Xiao, court leaders should not only make sure they do not surrender to temptation, but also must be held responsible for the anti-corruption efforts in their courts.

"Court leaders should focus on efforts to ensure the accuracy in verdicts and no corruption in themselves and their subordinate judges," said Xiao.

He singled out courts at the grassroots level, saying their improvement has become a task "demanding immediate action."

Statistics from the Supreme People's Court indicate most judges and court police disciplined or punished by law last year came from grass-roots-level courts, such as district courts in cities.

As a continuation of the efforts to ensure judicial fairness and efficiency, the Supreme People's Court plans to launch a campaign aimed at investigating and punishing undisciplined and law-violating judges.

The focus of this year's anti-corruption efforts in courts is bribery, irregularities for favouritism, perversion of laws and illegal enforcement, according to Li.

The court conference followed a CPC Central Discipline Inspection Commission plenary meeting in January on anti-corruption which showed the CPC's determination to curb corruption.

He Yong, deputy-secretary of the CPC Central Discipline Inspection Commission, Wednesday called for more efforts to probe into cases of taking bribery and perversion of law, adding that "the handful of black sheep" in courts must be eradicated from the profession.

He also called for stricter punishments and preventive mechanisms incorporating educational, institutional and supervisory efforts.

The Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Justice jointly issued a regulation last month seeking to bar any personal contact between judges and lawyers involved in litigation.

The court will draft a code of conduct for judges and revise a provisional regulation on the supervision on the people's courts this year.

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