Cor­rupt of­fi­cials be­come reg­u­la­tors’ tar­get in bid to make food safer

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YAN Zhangyan1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Na­tional pros­e­cu­tors are to step up their ef­forts to in­ves­ti­gate mis­con­duct among of­fi­cials in food safety-re­lated crimes, the Supreme Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate said on Wed­nes­day.

“Con­tam­i­nated and harm­ful food will se­ri­ously harm peo­ple’s health, un­der­mine eco­nomic or­der be­cause it is sold much cheaper, and af­fect so­cial sta­bil­ity. We will res­o­lutely fight against such crimes,” SPP spokes­woman Xiao Wei said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day.

She said na­tional pros­e­cut­ing de­part­ments be­gan a two-year cam­paign in March to tar­get any cor­rupt of­fi­cials found to be in­volved in food-safety crimes and pun­ish them se­verely ac­cord­ing to the law.

Crimes in­clude mis­con­duct while car­ry­ing out su­per­vi­sion du­ties and ac­cept­ing bribes to pro­vide pro­tec­tion to sus­pected crim­i­nals. In ad­di­tion, pros­e­cut­ing author­i­ties at each level will make a pri­or­ity of su­per­vis­ing ap­pro­pri­ate lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tive de­part­ments and public se­cu­rity sec­tors to pre­vent any illegal be­hav­ior, such as cov­er­ing up crimes or im­pos­ing fines rather than prison terms, she said.

“The key to tack­ling such an is­sue is to elim­i­nate cor­rup­tion in law en­force­ment sec­tors and other ad­min­is­tra­tive author­i­ties,” said Zheng Chuankai, a lawyer from the Bei­jing Lawyers As­so­ci­a­tion. “The qual­ity su­per­vi­sion sec­tor should also tighten up su­per­vi­sion to pre­vent such crimes.”

Ac­cord­ing to Huang He, di­rec­tor of the SPP’s case in­ves­ti­ga­tion and su­per­vi­sion depart­ment, the num­ber of food-safety-re­lated crimes be­ing in­ves­ti­gated has risen sharply.

He said that the Supreme Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate and the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court jointly is­sued a no­tice in 2013 to stip­u­late im­pos­ing se­vere pun­ish­ment on sus­pects in­volved in food-safety crimes.

Fig­ures pro­vided by the SPP show that 3,726 sus­pects were ar­rested for al­legedly man­u­fac­tur­ing and selling poi­sonous and harm­ful food be­tween May last year and the end of April this year, for a year-on-year in­crease of 136 per­cent.

Weak su­per­vi­sion by author­i­ties and mis­con­duct among some law en­force­ment of­fi­cers are mainly blamed for the fre­quent oc­cur­rence of such crimes, he said.

Ac­cord­ing

to

the

SPP, na­tional pros­e­cut­ing de­part­ments have su­per­vised public se­cu­rity author­i­ties con­duct­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions in 654 cases be­tween May last year and April, for a yea­ron­in­crease of 415 per­cent. The cases in­volved 825 sus­pects.

Food safety crimes of­ten oc­cur on the black mar­ket, He said, where raw ma­te­ri­als are un­reg­u­lated and some un­der­ground fac­to­ries with­out busi­ness li­censes are dirty and use poor equip­ment.

“Most of the sus­pects are run­ning small-scale work­shops in re­mote sub­ur­ban ar­eas, and they usu­ally work at night to keep the po­lice from track­ing them down,” he said.

Food safety crimes tend to be pro­fes­sional and or­ga­nized, with gang mem­bers as­sum­ing dif­fer­ent tasks, in­clud­ing pur­chas­ing raw ma­te­ri­als, man­u­fac­tur­ing, pro­cess­ing, pack­ag­ing, trans­port­ing and selling to form a com­plete chain, he said.

One typ­i­cal case oc­curred in Fe­bru­ary, when Xiong Zhi and seven other gang mem­bers were con­victed of man­u­fac­tur­ing and selling fake brands of baby for­mula.

They re­ceived prison terms rang­ing from seven to 15 years, along with fines of up to 7 mil­lion yuan ($1.13 mil­lion).

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