'Umbrellas' over criminals to be targeted

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Prosecutors nationwide will attach great importance to investigating corrupt officials who provide so-called protective umbrellas to mafia-like gangs and others, the Supreme People's Procuratorate said on Thursday.

"The biggest obstacle for clearing up the gangs and evil forces is to break their protectors," Zhang Jun, chief prosecutor at the SPP, said at a key meeting on Thursday. "We must consciously investigate them and never relax our efforts."

He said that if governmental or judicial officials fail to discover clues during inspections, they will be held accountable for dereliction of duty. If they obtain the clues and don't transfer them to the prosecuting departments, they will be accused of malfeasance, he said.

Moreover, prosecuting departments will enhance cooperation with discipline inspection commissions, supervisory commissions and public security departments and will propose effective coordinating mechanisms to collect evidence, exchange information and quickly transfer suspects.

"In the coming months, we will tease out some major clues and send them to the National Supervisory Commission for investigation. If prosecutors are involved, we will never tolerate it and will strictly punish them," he said.

In recent years, a growing number of cases involving protective umbrellas for organized crime have emerged nationwide. They are deeply interwoven with corruption and have seriously infringed on people's vital interests and welfare, he said.

Last year, prosecutors in Hubei province investigated nearly 300 cases involving protective umbrellas for criminals and seriously punished 220 people who were involved.

In Henan province, 190 civil servants have been dealt with. And in Guangdong, two cases involving bureau-level officials and 36 involving section-level officials who offered an umbrella of protection for criminals were filed.

"In China, citizens have a high expectation of fairness, justice and security, but organized crime and other corrupt forces have had a negative impact on their sense of security and happiness," said Bian Jianlin, law professor at China University of Political Science and Law.

"Fighting the protective umbrellas is a fundamental way to eliminate organized crime and corruption. The campaign effectively responds to people's aspirations to live a better life and safeguard lasting peace and stability for the country," he said.

Issues concerning people's interests have always been the focus of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Zheng said.

"Our top priority is to serve the country's overall development and protect the people's fundamental rights," he said.

Apart from combating organized crime, prosecuting departments will also pay attention to food and drug safety and protecting the environment, while dealing more effectively with cases involving crimes committed by minors and harm to minors' rights, including sexual abuse, trafficking and torture.

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