"China’s National Supervisory Commission: fresh, bigger fears over reach of new anti-corruption super agency"
South China Morning Post
19 July 2018
19 July 2018
The unbridled power and reach of China’s anti-corruption super agency have exceeded the initial fears of lawyers and academics in the four months since the new controversial system was introduced.
When Beijing set up the National Supervisory Commission in March, the most contentious issue was the commission’s power to detain anybody for investigation for up to six months without access to a lawyer.
But a recent case in the central Chinese province of Hunan has exposed how the commission’s activities could be used to deny detainees held by other law enforcement agencies access to legal counsel, even over unrelated offences.
The example has prompted lawyers and legal scholars to call for urgent official checks on the super agency’s “bloated power” under the National Supervision Law introduced in March.
The commission has been described by some critics as lending a veneer of legality to the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and its long-criticised extra-legal measures. The two commissions share the same office and personnel, as do their various local branches.
Fu Hualing, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong who specialises in China’s legal system, said that if true, the supervision commission’s intervention in Chen’s police custody was illegal and a perfect example of the new agency’s “bloated power”.
“The [supervisory commission] does not have the right to command the police – the two organisations are totally separate and operate under different laws. There is no [direct supervisory] relationship between the two, at least legally, if not politically,” Fu said.
“The problem now is that the law and politics are entangled. The ‘New Era’ is an era where the law and politics cannot be separated – once something involves politics, the law does not have a say any more.”
Under China’s newly revised constitution, the supervisory commission has a status close to the cabinet and is ranked higher than the supreme court and top prosecutor’s office.
“Now they can lead the police; later they may lead the prosecutors by commanding which cases should proceed and what should be the penalty,” Fu said.
“In the future, will they try to lead the judiciary as well?”
“The supervisory commissions’ power must be confined to the cage of the National Supervision Law – it has already escaped the cage.” Click here to read the full text.