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Checks and balances prevent abuse

China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-13 07:29

What are supervisory commissions?

Supervisory commissions are State anti-corruption agencies. The National Supervisory Commission is the highest State supervisory organ, and all provincial, city and county-level regions have their own supervisory commissions. Establishing supervisory commissions at all levels is considered a major political reform. The commissions are equal with the government, the prosecuting authorities and the courts. Leaders of supervisory commissions are elected by people's congresses at the same level and are supervised by legislative bodies, such as the standing committees of people's congresses at all levels.

What is the relationship between supervisory commissions and the CPC's discipline inspection authorities?

The supervisory commissions and CPC disciplinary inspection departments share offices and staff members to improve the Party's unified leadership of anti-corruption campaigns, and form a single working mechanism. The commissions incorporate the functions and duties of previous supervision departments within the government - preventing corruption and investigating departments within the procuratorates - and establish a unified, authoritative anti-graft command-and-decision-making system. After the reform, supervisory powers that were once divided will be pooled to form a centralized, unified and efficient system.

What's the difference between the supervisory commissions and the CPC's disciplinary inspection departments in terms of the scope of supervision?

The CPC's disciplinary authorities supervise Party members, while supervisory commissions monitor all public officers such as civil servants, management at State-owned enterprises and workers at public schools and medical institutes. Supervisory commissions have the power to supervise, investigate and punish public officials. Those suspected of work-related crimes, such as graft or dereliction of duty, will be handed over to the prosecuting authorities. The draft national supervision law grants supervisory commissions the power to collect evidence, question suspects and witnesses, detain suspects, freeze ill-gotten assets and prevent suspects from fleeing the country.

Why does China need a national supervision law, and what is its significance?

The supervision law, which will be reviewed by the top legislature on Tuesday, is the country's first specific anti-corruption law. It will play an essential and comprehensive role in establishing a new national supervision mechanism, and support the anti-corruption campaign. If adopted, it will give a legal footing to supervisory commissions and detail their duties and obligations. It also specifies procedures for detention and improved protection of suspects' rights. For example, it stipulates that, in principle, a detainee's family and employer should be informed of their detention within 24 hours, and frozen assets should be unfrozen within three days of being found irrelevant to the case.

What's the difference between detention undertaken by supervisory commissions and shuanggui?

Shuanggui is an intra-Party disciplinary practice in which CPC members under investigation must be available for questioning at a set time and place. Detention by supervisory commissions is an investigative measure empowered by the supervision law, which stipulates strict approval procedures and time limits for detention. So, the biggest improvement resulting from replacing shuanggui with detention is to put the practice within the legal framework, which will better protect suspects' rights.

How can detention be standardized and how can suspects' rights be protected during detention?

The supervision commissions are required to be cautious when they decide to detain a suspect, and supervision officials must follow strict procedures. An application to detain a suspect must be approved by authorities at the next level; for example, if a city's supervision commission wants to detain a suspect, the decision must be made collectively by its leaders and be submitted to a provincial supervision commission for review and approval.

According to the draft law, suspects can usually be detained for up to three months, and if special conditions are involved, inspectors can apply to extend the detention for a period of less than three months. During detention, suspects' rights, such as safety and medical care, should be fully protected, while rest periods and a proper diet must be guaranteed.

Do supervisory commissions have "super powers"? Who will monitor them?

The supervision commissions will not become "superpower bodies" and will only perform their duties under the leadership of the CPC and in accordance with the law. They will have an internal supervision mechanism and will be supervised by the Party, the legislature, the media and the public. The draft supervision law includes a special chapter on supervision of the commission and its staff members, which stipulates that the standing committees of people's congresses can hear and review work reports of supervision commissions at the same level, and conduct law-enforcement inspections. Legislators can also launch inquiries into, and even challenge, supervision work.

Can the supervisory commissions replace the judicial authorities?

The new commissions cannot and will not replace the judicial organs, but will work closely with them to fight corruption. If a supervisory investigation discovers any possible work-related crimes, the commission will transfer the case to the relevant prosecuting authorities. Based on the Criminal Procedure Law, after reviewing the case, the prosecutors can decide whether to charge suspects.

Sources: Central Commission for Discipline Inspection

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