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Public Urged to Report Dereliction of Duty
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The public is being invited by the country's top procuratorate to join in the fight against dereliction of duty and power abuse by officials.

"Without the help of the public, we're unable to effectively fight against duty dereliction and abuse of power," Wang Zhenchuan, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), said at a teleconference in Beijing yesterday.

People are encouraged to report such cases to procuratorates at all levels, and the top procuratorate has promised to protect the informants, such as keeping their identities confidential.

The campaign started in 2003 and investigations have focused on government officials and staff of the justice department who have abused their power for private gain. Officials who have neglected their duty and caused big economic losses have also been targeted.

Wang said the effects of dereliction of duty are often more harmful than those resulting from bribery. According to an SPP investigation, a bribery case causes an average loss of 258,000 yuan (US$33,506), while one instance of dereliction of duty costs 2.85 million yuan (US$370,000).

The biggest case reported yesterday happened in 2005 in Sichuan Province - the former director of the Chengdu Housing Fund Management Center Yang Canzhi caused a loss of 200 million yuan (US$26 million).

Yang's case is only one of the 29,351 cases that procuratorates investigated since 2003. SPP figures show that they caused a direct loss of 35.73 billion yuan (US$4.64 billion), and involved 35,011 officials.

However, Wang said the cases uncovered account for only a small part of the total. "Many cases have been neglected, or even dismissed, because many people do not realize the harm caused."

Some local officials try to impede investigations and seek leniency for indicted officials because they consider dereliction of duty simply as "a bad outcome generated by good intentions" rather than a violation of law, he added.

Song Hansong, deputy director of the SPP's anti-dereliction bureau, called for stiffer penalties for civil servants found guilty, describing the current punishments as "too lenient."

For instance, the local court in north China's Shanxi Province in December handed down sentences to 12 officials who had been found guilty of dereliction of duty in a coalmine accident last May. The accident killed 56 miners, but the court ruled that three of the officials would not have to face criminal punishment and put the remaining nine on probation.

According to the Criminal Law, officials found guilty of dereliction crimes can receive prison sentences of up to 10 years.

Song said many workplace accidents are directly related to dereliction of duty and abuse of power.

(China Daily May 10, 2007)

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