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China: Supervision Law Enacted Establishing a New State Supervisory Organ

(July 9, 2018) On March 20, 2018, the National People’s Congress (NPC) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China) adopted the PRC Supervision Law.  Effective on the same day, the Law repealed the existing PRC Administrative Supervision Law and established a new supervisory organ of the state. (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Jiancha Fa [PRC Supervision Law] (adopted by the NPC on Mar. 20, 2018), Chinese Government Legal Information Network, English translation available on the Westlaw China website (by subscription).)

According to the Law, the new National Supervision Commission (NSC) is the supreme supervisory organ of the state. Supervision commissions are also to be established at subnational levels, including provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government, autonomous prefectures, counties, autonomous counties, cities, and districts of cities. (Id. art. 7.)

The supervision commissions are tasked with supervising all public functionaries who exercise public power. The commissions will investigate occupation-related wrongdoings and criminal activities in order to build a clean government and combat corruption. (Id. art. 3.) The Law provides that the commissions are to exercise supervisory power independently and free of any interference by the administrative organ, any social organizations, or any individuals. (Id. art 4.)

The Law grants supervision commissions the power of retention in custody (liu zhi) in investigating serious corruption cases. (Id. art. 22.) The period of retention in custody must not exceed three months, but the period may be extended by another three months. (Id. art. 43.) The Law provides a few procedural requirements in protection of the detainees, such as notifying the detainee’s family within 24 hours unless such notification may obstruct the investigation, and guaranteeing the detainee food, rest, and safety. (Id. art. 44.)

The Supervision Law, in particular the provisions of retention in custody, has been criticized by Amnesty International as a systematic threat to human rights.  According to Amnesty, the Law “by-passes judicial institutions by establishing a parallel system solely run by the Chinese Communist Party with no outside checks and balances.” (China: New Supervision Law A Systemic Threat to Human Rights, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL (Mar. 20, 2018).)