Here it is a bit modified.
In China’s Hebei province, a man convicted and
executed for rape and murder of a woman in 1995 has been found innocent 21
years after his sentence was upheld.
China’s Supreme People’s Court has found that evidence
in the case was never sufficient and gross miscarriage of justice was done in
sending the man, Nie Shubin, to the gallows. The verdict by the apex court of
China is being seen as historical in China as its state run media is vigorously
reporting about it.
A man was arrested in 2005 in rape and murder cases of
some women and during the interrogation, he revealed that the crime for which
Nie Shubin was executed was in fact committed by him. That man was also
executed in 2007.
That means Nie Shubin’s innocence was proven way back
in 2005 and as China’s apex court decided to review the Nie Shubin’s verdict in
the light of the 2005 revelation only, who will account for the unacceptable
delay of 11 years since 2005? Nie’s mother Zhang Huanzhi and his family has
been campaigning hard since then.
What about closure for the family after it lost its
son at the young age of 21? What about that mother who broke in China’s Supreme
People’s Court when the verdict was read out?
judicial independence in
Global Times, the official newspaper of the Chinese
Communist Party (CPC) writes, “It is an implementation of rule of law and a
demonstration of social progress and judicial justice, showing that China
attaches great importance to human rights.”
‘China attaches great importance to human rights’ -
but incarcerates the voices of dissent. Its most notable contemporary example
is Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Peace Nobel Laureate who is still in jail as he has
called for political reforms and an end to single party rule in China.
When we see the world view about independence and
transparency of the judicial system in China, this verdict that is being much
touted by the Chinese state machinery, looks ironical.
The report on judicial independence in China from the
US Congressional-Executive Commission on China says, “China's judiciary
continues to be subject to a variety of internal and external controls that
significantly limit its ability to engage in independent decisionmaking.”
Another report in Huffington Post analyzing judicial independence
in China says, “In China, law is a mechanism for the exercise and safeguard of
the Party’s power and legitimacy.”
China will dismiss them as the US propaganda but what
should we say when voices from China's judiciary oppose any reform measure
based on the universal norms of human rights.
According to a report in The Guardian last year “China’s
top court urged officials from the ruling Communist party to shun western-style
judicial independence and reject “erroneous western thought”. Bizarre!
The Huffington Post report says that former President
of the Supreme People’s Court, Xiao Yang, had said in 2007 that “the power of
the courts to adjudicate independently doesn’t mean at all independence from
the Party (CPC). It is the opposite, the embodiment of a high degree of
responsibility vis-à-vis Party undertakings.”
China’s judiciary is not seen as independent and it
wants to maintain the status quo it seems. The world view about the China’s
judiciary is that it is subservient to the interests of the state and has been
WHAT ABOUT THEN CASES LIKE NIE SHUBIN?
China, the world’s second largest economy and the most
populous nation, is a closed country run by an autocratic party which never
shares the information that can show it in some negative light, even if it is
the basic need of a just society. It only highlights a matter when it serves
its vast propaganda machinery.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has been declared
only the third ‘core leader’ Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, has emerged as the
strongest political leader in China's recent history. And he is on an image
enhancement exercise with his ruthless anti-corruption purge that many say is
targeted at purging voices critical of him. Allowing a judiciary that is
independent enough to look pro people may be another extension of his outreach
Much like Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade which has
seen many high profile purges well publicized or this case as it also follows
up a decision taken by the Communist Party of China during its Fourth Plenary
Session in October 2014 to ‘set a new blueprint for rule of law', as another
Global Times report on Nie Shubin’s case says.
Immediately after the October 2014 Plenary, the
Chinese Supreme People’s Court took cognizance of Shubin’s case in December
2014 and assigned it to a provincial higher court, started its own retrial in
June 2016 and came up with the verdict by December 2016.
Chinese courts boast a conviction rate of almost 100%
and though China refuses to provide data, it is believed that its judicial
system executes maximum number of people in the world. Corruption runs deep in
China and then there is also the pressure from authorities to provide
impressive data that looks clean on paper – a practice that results in forced
confessions, almost non-existent defence in criminal trials and unjust verdicts
like this in China’s criminal justice system.
In jurisprudence, it said that no innocent should ever
suffer even if 10 guilty persons walk away. It will be interesting to know how
the Chinese judicial system interprets this.