Amendment aims to end forced confessions

Updated: 2011-06-13 17:28
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BEIJING - China's drafting amendment of criminal procedural law will likely include better measures to prevent the extraction of confessions through torture or violence, a legal expert said in a report in Monday's Beijing News.

Court procedures will exclude evidence found to be extracted by torture, violence or other illegal ways, the newspaper quoted Wang Minyuan, a legal researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The prohibition of illegal evidence extraction and self-incrimination has already been included in the current Criminal Procedure Law, Wang added.

However, the provisions in the law did not stipulate consequences for those practices, so confessions and evidence obtained in that manner could still be recognized as valid in the prosecution procedures, and that is a major reason for the repeated cases of forced confessions and miscarriages of justice, Wang said.

In May 2010, Zhao Zuohai was acquitted after serving 10 years in prison for murder in central Henan province as the supposed murder victim, Zhao Zhenshang, was found alive and well.

That led to the arrest of three former police officers for allegedly torturing Zhao Zuohai into confessing to a crime that never happened.

In 2005, She Xianglin, a former security guard from central Hubei province, was released after 11 years in jail. He had been wrongly convicted of murdering his wife.

His conviction and sentence was based on his "confession," despite the fact that his wife's body was never found. His wife turned out to be residing in her hometown.

She Xianglin said he confessed after being tortured and deprived of sleep during 10 days of interrogation.

In addition to wrongly convicting innocent individuals, resorting to torture and violence during interrogations is uncivilized, inhumane, and violates an individual's human rights, Wang said.

Last year, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice jointly issued a regulation setting out detailed procedures for examining evidence and for excluding evidence obtained in an illegal ways such as torture.

In March, China's top legislator Wu Bangguo said in his work report that the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Law is included in the legislature's schedule of law amendment and revision this year.

On Friday, Zhou Yongkang, secretary of the CPC Central Committee's Commission for Political and Legal Affairs, urged the proposed law amendment to better balance human rights with crime-fighting.