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Law enforcement gains transparency

Hu Yongqi
Updated: Jan 8,2019 8:44 AM     China Daily

A system will be established for governments at all levels to publicly disclose their administrative law enforcement moves, which will be recorded on video to boost transparency and clean governance, a recent State Council guideline said.

The document, released by the central government on Jan 3, aims to improve the enforcement of administrative laws, better safeguard people’s legal rights, and preserve the government’s credibility.

It stipulates that information on government work should be unveiled to the public before the announcement of new policies on the enforcement of administrative laws.

Administrative law enforcement officials should clarify their identities when performing their duties and law enforcement verdicts should be made public within a certain period of time.

In addition, administrative law enforcement should be recorded and documented in all regions, in text and audiovisual media, keeping track of law enforcement proceedings, investigations, evidence collection, and auditing. These recordings should be systematically filed to keep a close eye on the process of law enforcement.

For example, all law enforcement actions that concern people’s personal freedom, health and property, including compulsory demolition, will be recorded on video, with the recordings kept for evidence.

A review and approval mechanism for major administrative law enforcements will be introduced. Governmental departments should examine and review important cases before decisions are released. In cases that fail to pass the examination and approval procedure, the departments will have no right to make related decisions.

More efforts should be made to digitize administrative law enforcement by using big data, cloud computing and other technologies to establish comprehensive e-platforms for management and supervision.

The guideline was issued two years after pilot programs were started in 32 regions and State Council departments, including Tianjin, the provinces of Anhui and Hebei, and the Ministry of Land and Resources, which was restructured into the Ministry of Natural Resources in March.

Administrative law enforcement is the main method of social and economic management in China, with government departments responsible for enforcing about 80 percent of the country’s laws, 90 percent of local regulations, and almost all its administrative rules, Vice-Minister of Justice Liu Zhenyu told a policy briefing hosted by the State Council Information Office on Jan 4.

Liu said that while the country has made progress in the field of administrative law enforcement in the past few years, the guideline was issued to correct problems including violent enforcement, violation of legal procedures, and corruption.

On the other side of the coin, some people, such as those who occupied others’ seats on trains and airplanes, didn’t abide by administrative laws, the vice-minister said, and the new guideline would play a vital role in setting up disclosure, video recording and review mechanisms for administrative law enforcement.

Such disclosure will make the government “run under the sunlight” — a metaphor for clean governance — by punctually releasing information to people concerned, Liu said. All procedures will be recorded on video, helping to track all enforcement moves, while the review mechanism will ensure all major administrative decisions by the government are in line with regulations and laws, he said.

For example, a traffic policeman in Shanghai became famous online in May for his standardized verbal responses and moves when checking automobile registrations. They were recorded on video, showing the usefulness of such technology.

Zhao Zhenhua, director of the administrative enforcement coordination department at the Ministry of Justice, said the guideline sets norms and concrete procedures for officials when they enforce laws and regulations. All the standards are designed to correct illegal operations, he said, adding that all regions and State Council departments should release their own detailed plans by the end of March.

Wang Manchuan, secretary-general of the China Society of Administrative Reform, said the guideline is expected to build a law-governed environment with greater transparency, fairness and efficiency in the long run. It should also promote better relations between the government and the public if properly carried out, he said.