Draft supervision law to pave way for Party-led unified anti-graft network

China's draft supervision law was submitted for its third reading at the national legislature, aiming at a centralized, unified, authoritative and efficient supervisory network.

China’s draft supervision law was submitted for its third reading at the national legislature yesterday, aiming at a centralized, unified, authoritative and efficient supervisory network under the Party’s leadership.

The new law, an essential part of China’s reform of supervisory institutions, is expected to serve as a fundamental and guiding law against corruption and for state supervision, said Li Jianguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress, when explaining the bill to the 13th NPC.

The law is aimed at enhancing the leadership of the Communist Party of China on anti-corruption campaigns, he said.

According to the bill, new supervisory commissions will be established at the national, provincial, city and county levels. Tasked to handle job-related crimes, they will independently exercise supervisory power, and not be subject to interference from the government, social organizations and individuals.

The commissions are entrusted to oversee state functionaries, investigate corruption cases such as bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, impose administrative penalty on corrupt officials, and hand over criminal cases to prosecutors, according to the bill.

“In face of a tough and complicated situation, our existing supervisory institutions were clearly unable to meet the demands of the battle against corruption and the campaign to clean up the Party,” Li said.

Under the old supervisory system, the Party disciplinary network oversaw all Party members and the administrative supervisory agencies governed civil servants, which left a considerable number of state functionaries unsupervised.

The supervisory power was also divided among three agencies, with the Party disciplinary agencies regulating Party members according to Party rules, administrative supervisory agencies watching civil servants according to the administrative supervision law, and procuratorates prosecuting state functionaries suspected of corruption according to the criminal procedure law.

“The agencies, with their power divided and overlapping, did not function in harmony,” Li said, adding that procuratorates, which not only investigate but also prosecute, were not under effective supervision.

Under the reform, supervision, corruption control and prevention divisions under the government and procuratorates are merged, pooling anti-graft resources together.

The new law also aims to legalize a unified system between state supervision and Party disciplinary inspection.

“Since 80 percent of civil servants and 95 percent of leading officials are Party members, the tasks of Party internal inspection and state supervision highly overlap, requiring a more unified supervisory system,” Li said.

New supervisory commissions will share staff and offices with the Party disciplinary inspection agencies.

The draft law has incorporated practices of the pilot reform of supervisory system, which began in Beijing, Shanxi and Zhejiang in December 2016, and then was expanded nationwide last November, Li said.

Among the new practices in the pilot reform, a new detention system has been tested to replace the practice of shuanggui, an intra-party disciplinary practice, exercised by Party disciplinary officials, where a Party member under investigation must cooperate with questioning at a set time and place.

“Replacing shuanggui with rigorously-regulated detention will help settle a long-lingering legal problem,” Li said. “This has displayed our resolve and confidence to realize a full law-based governance.” 

As of now, supervisory commissions have been founded at the provincial, city and county levels across the country.

The constitutional amendment, adopted by the NPC on Sunday, listed supervisory commissions as a new state organ.

The national supervisory commission will be made up of one director, several deputy directors and a few members. The director will be elected by the NPC, serve the same term as that of the NPC and for no more than two consecutive terms.

Deputy directors and members will be appointed and removed by the NPC Standing Committee upon the request of the director.

Local supervisory commissions will follow a similar setup to the national agency.

Under the bill, supervision commissions will be entitled to oversee staff of Party organs, legislatures, governments, courts, procuratorates, political advisory bodies, as well as their own staff, executives of state-owned enterprises, managing staff of public institutions and mass organizations, among others in public office. 

Supervisory commissions will be supervised by the people’s congresses at the same level and their standing committees, to which they report their work and answer inquiries.

Supervisory commissions will have the power to question witnesses, interrogate suspects, search properties, freeze bank accounts, seize and identify suspicious assets, among other means.

A suspect implicated in graft offenses could be detained at a designated location if further investigation is necessary, and if the suspect is likely to flee, commit suicide, collude with accomplices or tamper with evidence.

The detention must be approved by the supervisory commissions.

The supervisory commissions will authorize relevant agencies, following strict approval procedures, to take technical investigation measures, issue fugitive notices, or block suspects from traveling abroad.

Rigorous restriction will be introduced upon the power of supervisory commissions.

According to the bill, clear protocols will be set up for supervision and investigation procedures and provisions will be added to better protect personal and property rights of those under investigation.

To detain a suspect, city and county supervisory commissions must ask for permission from their superior commissions, while provincial commissions shall inform the national commission.

Detention shall last no longer than three months, and the family and work unit of the detained suspect shall be notified within 24 hours, except those who might hinder investigations. The detention can be extended for another three months only once, under “special circumstances” and with approval from the higher-level supervisory commission.

Food, rest and safety should be guaranteed and medical care provided for those in custody.