Chinese Regime Convicts All But 0.66 Percent of Criminal Defendants

November 10, 2006 Updated: November 10, 2006

BEIJING—China, with a judicial system widely seen as designed only for conviction, has found nearly all 6 million defendants in criminal cases guilty in the past nine years, state media said on Thursday.

Human rights groups have accused Beijing of falling behind international standards on criminal justice with widespread police torture, lack of due process in court trials and the absence of presumption of innocence.

Chinese newspapers regularly report details of a defendant's guilt before a verdict has been reached, and courts are commonly viewed as venues merely for passing sentence.

“A total of 41,038 people have been acquitted from January 1998 to September 2006, accounting for 0.66 percent of the 6.2 million defendants in criminal cases that have closed,” the People's Court Daily said.

More than 22 percent had been jailed for more than five years, the newspaper, run by China's Supreme Court, said.

The courts, controlled by the stability-obsessed Communist Party, tend to reach summary convictions and sentences to help the “strike hard” crackdowns the government regularly wages against crime.

Only 21 percent of the 761,000 criminal cases that went to second trials were overturned, the People's Court Daily said in a report touting the “significantly improved quality and efficiency” of the Chinese courts' work.