BEIJING – Chinese courts logged only 825 acquittals among the nearly 1.16 million verdicts they issued last year, the Supreme People’s Court said Monday, giving the Communist country a conviction rate of 99.93 percent.
In a report to the annual session of the Communist Party-controlled National People’s Congress, Zhou Qiang, head of the Supreme People’s Court, said Chinese courts convicted 1.158 million people in the 954,000 criminal cases heard.
Only 825 people were exonerated, he said in the report, in accordance with rules including “protecting human rights” and “excluding illegal evidence.”
Abuses are widespread in China’s legal system, where police routinely coerce confessions. Rights groups say that Chinese courts are politically controlled and their rulings are often affected by government agendas, with activists who come to trial virtually certain to be found guilty.
In a separate report to the NPC, Cao Jianming, head of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, said prosecutors had intervened 72,370 times over “illegal investigation methods including excessive use of coercive measures, obtaining evidence via illegal means and obtaining confessions through torture.”
The number of times officials stepped in was climed 27.3 percent year-on-year, he added.
Wang Cailiang, director of Beijing Cailiang Law Firm, said that China’s courts have refused to hear most land expropriation cases lodged by citizens against the government, and that not a single public welfare lawsuit, such as over pollution, had been accepted.
“The year 2013 marked the darkest year in the history of China’s rule of law,” he said.
“President Xi Jinping’s call for the country to be ruled by law had no one to put it into practice,” he said.
The Supreme Court itself pointed out flaws in the legal system.
“The rulings in some cases were not fair . . . which harmed the interests of the litigants and undermined the credibility of the law,” Zhou said in the report.