The People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), ran a bylined commentary Saturday refuting criticisms made against the country's judicial reforms.
In its annual World Report published last week, the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed that China's "police dominate the criminal justice system, which relies disproportionately on defendants' confessions."
"Weak courts and tight limits on the rights of the defense mean that forced confessions under torture remain prevalent and miscarriages of justice frequent," HRW said.
Saying the HRW statement "seriously distorted" the truth of China's human rights conditions as a whole, the People's Daily article, under the byline of Shen Hui, said its description of the country's judicial reforms is "particularly biased and untrue."
"It is known that China's criminal justice system is not dominated by police organs, but consists of investigation organs led by the police organs, people's procuratorates and people's courts," said the article.
Under Chinese law, criminal prosecution proposals raised by police must be reviewed by procuratorial authorities before a decision on whether to bring criminal cases to court can be made by the latter.
The courts try cases and give verdicts after examining all evidence in an independent and fair manner. The procuratorates' prosecution proposals can only become part of a court's verdict after a fair hearing based on court debates, investigations and examinations of evidence, said the article.
China's criminal justice system is not dominated by police organs, but operates based on the work of all three parties -- people's courts, people's procuratorates, and police -- who play their own assigned roles and restrain from each other, according to the article.
Meanwhile, the article noted that "the rights and role of defense lawyers in the handling of criminal cases has been strengthened, and the phenomenon of excessive reliance on defendants' confessions is diminishing."
Concrete measures have been introduced to stem the source of forced confessions under torture, the article said.
In response to the HRW's allegation that there is a provision "allowing police to secretly detain suspects," the article said there is no such provision in China's draft amendment to the Criminal Procedural Law, which legislators have been reviewing since August 2011.
The World Report "gave no word on the great progress in terms of China's judicial reforms that have been demonstrated in the Criminal Procedural Law draft amendment, and deliberately produced a misconception of the draft," the article said.
According to the draft, procuratorial organs should investigate allegations of evidence collected through illegal methods, and interrogators suspected of obtaining confessions or evidence through illegal methods should be prosecuted.
It also states that all interrogations of criminal suspects should be conducted in detention houses and that the entire interrogation should be videotaped in the most serious criminal cases.
Legal experts say the draft amendment will help improve the protection of criminal suspects' human rights, by preventing judges from accepting confessions from tortured suspects and giving these suspects more defense options.