03/13/2017, 13.39
CHINA
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The 'successes' of Chinese law: convictions for graft and activism

by Wang Zhicheng

The Supreme Court’s report on justice lays out figures on trials and convictions involving graft: 45,000 cases involving 63,000 people. The greatest achievement was the conviction of human rights lawyers and Christians, like Zhou Shifeng and Hu Shigen, on charges of conspiring "against state security."

Beijing (AsiaNews) – In its traditional report on justice in China to the National People's Congress, China’s Supreme court and top prosecutor’s office patted themselves on the back for trying tens of thousands of criminals, especially business crooks and human rights activists.

Read by Chief Justice Zhou Qiang (pictured 1), the report presents great results: more than 45,000 graft cases. The 63,000 defendants included 35 former officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above, and 240 at the prefectural level.

Procurator-General Cao Jianming delivered the report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP). For Judge Zhang Yongjian, this is a demonstration of the "crushing momentum," and the resolve of the Party and government to fight corruption.

Since 2012, when Xi Jinping became Party general secretary, China has been engaged in a relentless fight against corruption, which has brought down top officials, including politburo members, party secretaries, generals, etc.

Many observers suspect that behind this campaign is an attempt by Xi to eliminate his political opponents.

Whatever the case, the Supreme Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate confirmed that efforts against graft would not be weakened and that the zero-tolerance policy towards corrupt would continue.

For both, their greatest achievement are the arrests and conviction of crimes against "state security”. In China, any crime of opinion in an article, a statement or a meeting can be branded as "an attack against state security."

The Supreme Court report boasts of having "severely punished state security crimes, and sentenced subversion cases such as that of [rights lawyer] Zhou Shifeng (pictured 2).

The prosecutions of Zhou and Hu Shigen (pictured 3), another rights activist, were also among the Supreme People’s Procuratorate’s most prominent achievements last year, according to its report.

Zhou Shifeng, a lawyer, and Hu Shigen, a human rights activist, were convicted last year. Zhou is the founder of the Fengrui law firm, whose members have also been detained and arrested.

Zhou was sentenced to seven years in prison last August for organising protests and sending his associates to attend human rights seminars abroad.

Hu, the leader of an underground Protestant community and pro-democracy activist from the time of Tiananmen Square, was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail.

Zhou and Hu were among 300 rights lawyers and activists arrested or interrogated in a crackdown called 709 that began on 9 July 2015. At least half of them are Christians.

So far only four of them have been convicted. Others are still waiting to go to trial. Some of them are still in prison in inaccessible and unknown locations. It is feared that they might be physically and mentally tortured.

Li Chunfu (pictured 4), another human rights lawyer, was released on bail in January after more than 500 days in detention. After he returned home, he showed signs of schizophrenia.

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