Safeguarding national security and higher-profile roles in counterterrorism and financial services regulation are among the top priorities for mainland prosecutors, according to Xinhua.
Citing the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP), Xinhua reported
The report comes after last month’s annual central political and legal affairs work conference, which ordered law enforcement, the judiciary and prosecutors to redouble their efforts to prevent and contain terrorism risks, as well as safeguard political, financial, public and cyber security.
State media reported earlier this week that the global manhunt for alleged graft fugitives and anti-corruption efforts would remain priorities for the country’s top prosecutor’s office.
The SPP said local procuratorates should be proactive in crackdowns against criminal syndicates, extremely violent individuals, and criminal activity involving courier and logistics services.
It will also step up efforts against internet crime, including fraudulent financing activities through online platforms.
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The national legislature passed a sweeping and controversial national security law in July, defining any threat to the state’s power, sovereignty, or the sustainable growth of the economy as a threat to national security.
Political security was a fundamental element of the work on national security, the law said.
But some analysts raised fears about further limits on civil liberties from efforts to make political security a high priority for the legal system, including prosecutors.
“Political safety means the unshakable leadership role of the Communist Party,” said Chen Daoyin, an associate professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.
“Anything, including speech, that challenges the leadership of the party could be a target of legal punishment.”
Beijing-based criminal lawyer Yang Xuelin said:“Political safety is not a legal term. It’s not defined by the constitution, criminal law or the criminal procedure law.
“It’s beyond understanding that the top legal institute makes it their work priority.”
Beijing-based human rights lawyer Li Fangping said the implications of the emphasis were “obvious”. “It will provide stronger legal support for the crackdown on civil society,” Li said. The prosecutors were likely to be more cooperative with the police in approving arrests and indictments, he added.
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Li’s concern was echoed by professor Fu Hualing, an expert in Chinese law at the University of Hong Kong. “The emphasis on national security could signal heavy sentences for a handful of cases deemed related to subversion of power, including the few rights lawyers connected to the Beijing-based Fengrui law firm arrested last year,” Fu said.
The office had also grown more focused on production safety, Fu said. “It is usually settled through administrative means or fines. The new focus is a result of the blast in Tianjin.”
Beijing blamed lax regulation and law enforcement for a massive blast hit a Tianjin warehouse in August that killed 165 people.
The SPP said it would tighten enforcement and request that courts hand down immediate jail terms instead of suspended sentences.