03/02/2016, 15.08
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For Chinese Consultative Conference delegate, “TV confessions” harm the state and human dignity

Zhu Zhengfu, deputy chairman of the All-China Lawyers Association and a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, slams televised confessions, following cases involving Hong Kong publishers and booksellers, as well as a growing number of human rights activists who “repent” their crimes. For Hong Kong’s police chief, Lee Bo was not telling everything.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Zhu Zhengfu, deputy chairman of the All-China Lawyers Association and a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), has criticised televised confessions by suspects before they go to trial.

“A confession made on television does not equate to a legitimate confession or carry any indication he or she is guilty,” Zhu was quoted as saying. “If the confession was staged, it does not help protect the rights of the suspect or the justice system.”

Zhu revealed that he has prepared proposals concerning confessions to this year’s CPPCC and National People’s Congress (PNC), which open on 3 and 5 March respectively. Zhu sits on the CPPCC’s Committee for Social and Legal Affairs, which can propose new legislation or changes to existing laws to the PNC.

Zhu wants to see an end to televised confessions. “Even criminal suspects enjoy the right to dignity and no one would make a televised confession without being forced to as part of a deal for a lighter sentence,” he said.

He warned that the practice would lead to trial by media and give the public the impression that the suspect was guilty. “It would be difficult for the court to find the suspect not guilty amid this kind of public opinion,” he warned.

Lately in China, confessing on television has become a routine government practice against dissidents. In January 2015, Swedish activist Peter Dahlin confessed to "inciting opposition to the government" before he was deported.

In early February, Zhang Kai, a lawyer who represented churches trying to protect their crosses from demolition in Zhejiang, stated on TV that he wanted to "earn money and fame " by exploiting the issue.

A few days ago, publisher Lee Bo had also appeared on TV. He had disappeared from Hong Kong along with some business partners. In his interview, he slammed one of his partner, and said that he had travelled to the mainland of his own free will to take part in an ongoing investigation. He also said he was going to give up his British citizenship, and wanted to be left alone.

Hong Kong’s police chief, Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung, said on Tuesday that he suspected Lee Bo was hiding something, but that the force would have to accept his story.

Lee met a police officer and an immigration officer on Monday, six weeks after Hong Kong made a request to that effect.

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