Prosecuting authorities across the country will be required to send officers to stay at, or pay regular visits to, police stations to ensure justice by beefing up supervision over criminal investigations.
The move, issued in a circular by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on March 29, aims to better monitor public security departments to prevent police misconduct such as forcing confessions, according to the top procuratorate.
“Tightening the supervision over police criminal probes is to prevent torture and illegal evidence collection, thus better protecting the rights of suspects and ensuring accusations against them are proper,” said Dai Peng, a professor of criminal investigation at the People’s Public Security University of China.
In recent years, a number of miscarriages of justice have been reported around the country, many of which resulted from forced confessions. Such wrongful cases have triggered heated public discussion and criticism.
Since 2015, the top procuratorate has operated a pilot program to send prosecutors to police stations in 10 provincial regions.
Data from the Supreme People’s Procuratorate show that officers from 1,064 prosecuting departments have been deployed to 8,370 local police stations in those areas. They have put forward 15,162 rectification suggestions and helped to ensure standardized police actions, according to the SPP.
“Through the supervision, the quality of police probes has greatly improved and the number of wrongly charged cases has sharply dropped,” Sun Qian, deputy prosecutor-general of the SPP, said previously.
The top procuratorate has required the practice to be extended to all police stations in the pilot regions in the first half of this year, and procuratorates in other parts of the country have been told to follow suit by the end of this year.
Special attention will be paid to stopping illegal evidence from being produced. Cases that have caused, or may cause, strong public sentiment also will be watched closely, SPP officials said.
Police use of criminal means to handle economic disputes, and the protection of suspects’ personal and property rights, will also be closely watched, according to the SPP.
Last month, a local procuratorate in Lanshan district in Rizhao, Shandong province, set up an office at the district police bureau, local media reported.
Qin Xiaolei, a senior officer at Lanshan district procuratorate, said the office enabled prosecutors to monitor police work in a timely way, particularly in major or complex cases. Prosecutors issue targeted suggestions if they discover illegal conduct, Qin said.
“The office has built a communication bridge between prosecutors and police to timely share information and plays an active role in standardizing law enforcement,” she said.