Rights of suspects 'highly respected'

By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-30 07:45

The rights of people suspected of being involved in crimes have been highly respected, senior officials said.

They said tremendous progress had been made in stamping out the unlawful extended detention of suspects and new measures are expected soon to further prevent and correct this wrongful practice.

The number of people whose detention had been illegally extended has dropped dramatically from 24,921 in 2003, to 271 in 2005. Last year, it was 210, according to a report by Gu Xiulian, vice-chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress yesterday.

Chen Guangzhong, a professor with the Chinese University of Politics and Law, said: "Such a difference is an important indication of China's efforts to intensify the protection of human rights."

Tong Jianming, the spokesman of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said: "The Chinese judicial body not only devotes itself to cracking down on crime, but highly respects human dignity and freedom."

The most significant progress was seen in 2004, when the number of those whose detentions were illegally extended declined from the previous year's 24,921 to 4,947, thanks to a concentrated campaign in May 2003, to reduce the prolonged detention of criminal suspects held by the police, the procuratorate and court departments.

This was followed by a circular issued in September of that year by the three ministries stipulating that law enforcement officers who abuse their power and cause a suspect's detention to be illegally extended must bear disciplinary or criminal responsibility.

"Along with this, there has also been an improvement in judiciary efficiency and its awareness of the human rights of people suspected of crimes," Chen told China Daily.

"Moreover, the forceful implementation of releasing suspects found not guilty for lack of sufficient evidence has also contributed much to the achievements."

He said that the country's efforts in protecting minors, including judiciary bodies trying to reduce the detention of minors, had also helped to reduce the number of people illegally detained for prolonged periods.

Sometimes criminal suspects are held in detention centers awaiting a court's verdict which could take time, and this results in a person being in detention longer than necessary.

The legal period a suspect can be held is five months 10 days for ordinary cases, and 14 months 29 days for major complicated cases, according to China's Criminal Procedure Law.

Last year, no unlawful extended custody case was found among the procuratorates due to a "long-term supervisory system" established in 2004.

Despite the progress made, Tong said the highest procuratorate had drafted new measures to better prevent and correct the illegal practice.

The measures will include upgrading a system of informing to concerned authorities of a suspect's detention deadline in jails and labor camps, and judicial bodies will be given more leeway not to detain a suspect.

"Decreasing the custody rate is a best way to eliminate unlawfully prolonged custody," Tong said.

The new measures are still under discussion, and are expected to be implemented by the end of the year.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours