China's highest criminal prosecution body has issued new regulations detailing official abuses of authority, which it hopes will stamp out torture of criminals and criminal suspects.
The regulations issued by the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) on Wednesday outline 42 offences of abuse of office with criteria by which prosecuting authorities could launch investigations.
The offences include:
-- divulging state secrets;
-- releasing detainees without proper authority;
-- abusing authority in company registration and establishment;
-- failing to properly collect taxes;
-- illegally issuing logging and tree-felling permits;
-- selling land-use rights below value;
-- improperly recruiting public servants;
-- aiding and abetting fugitives;
-- extracting confessions through torture, collecting evidence by violent means and abusing detainees.
SPP Vice President Wang Zhenchuan said the SPP had previously lacked detailed standards and criteria by which to determine if an official was abusing their authority or office.
"The new regulations detail circumstances in which officials can be considered to be abusing their power," Wang said.
For example, the previous regulations prohibited law enforcement and judicial officers from using "brutal means" to extract confessions and torture was defined by whether it caused "serious results".
But prosecutors had no practical guidelines to determine what constituted "brutal means" or "serious results".
The new regulations detail eight criteria for the crime of torture, including beating, binding, freezing, starving, exposing suspects to severe weather, severely injuring suspects, and directly or indirectly ordering others to use torture.
Wang said the new regulations would help prosecutors determine if an official had committed an offence and if an investigation was required.
"The human rights of criminals suspects will be better protected with these regulations," he said.
The SPP also disclosed that around 8,000 officials were on the prosecutors' files for investigation of abuse of office allegations. Sixty to 70 percent of allegations related to "economic" offences.
The regulations also clearly define "official" and "state worker" as people working for central or local governments, judicial and law enforcement bodies, the armed forces, national or local people's congresses, political consultative conferences, and the Communist Party of China.