China’s Communist Party Sounds Death Knell for Arrest, Conviction Quotas – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Former Chinese judge Jianwei Fang doesn’t mince words about the country’s practice of using arrest and conviction quotas to measure the performance of the country’s police, prosecutors and judges.

“It’s very stupid,” he says.

The Communist Party would appear to agree. This week, the party agency in charge of legal affairs, the Central Political and Legal Committee, called on the country’s legal institutions to “firmly abolish” the inclusion of goals for arrests, indictments, guilty verdicts and case conclusions in assessments of staff, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

The demand from the committee appeared to reinforce a decision by the Supreme People’s Court in December to do away with court performance rankings based on quotas and lessen the importance of quotas in assessing performance.

Xinhua’s report drew a connection between performance standards in the Chinese legal system and a proliferation of wrongful convictions, including in death penalty cases. Some of those cases, it said, “were affected by the presumption of guilt, and were caused by an emphasis on confession over evidence, even torture.”

Mr. Fang, who worked as a junior judge in eastern China’s Zhejiang province in the mid-2000s, described the elimination of quotas as one of the most encouraging reforms to be announced following a major Communist Party meeting on rule of law in October.

“Different judges and different courts are competing based on these targets, which are highly unscientific and unreasonable,” he said. “They don’t mean anything.”

Conviction rates for criminal cases in China are well over 90%. It sometimes happens, according to Mr. Fang, that judges and prosecutors may suspect a defendant is innocent but still find him guilty and impose a suspended sentence in order to maintain good conviction numbers.

via China’s Communist Party Sounds Death Knell for Arrest, Conviction Quotas – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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