Continuing the Chinese Government 101 series, today's post is on China's Supreme People's Procuracy, or Procuratorate (最高人民检察院; in pinyin Zuìgāo Rénmín Jiǎncháyuàn). This likely unfamiliar term refers to a position within the Chinese government with no corollary in the US system. Taken from the Soviet Union, China's judicial system includes the “procuracy,” which is managed by a chief procurator and acts as a government agency in charge of investigation and prosecution.
Article 1 of the Organic Law of the People’s Procuratorates defines the role of the procuracy as the “state organ of legal supervision." Article 2 of that Law establishes a centralized procuratorial system with a Supreme People’s Procuratorate and subordinate branches parallel to the court system (i.e., provincial, autonomous regional and municipal procuratorates, as well as procuratorates at the autonomous prefecture/cities directly under provincial governments, county, city, autonomous city and urban district levels). These are supplemented by special people’s procuratorates for certain areas such as military or railway transportation.
The procuracy's responsibilities include everything from initiation of suits to issuing arrest warrants and supervision of the legality of investigation activities by public security authorities. Unlike prosecutors in the US, the procuracy’s role is not limited to initiating proceedings for criminal cases or even only to presenting evidence on behalf of the P.R.C. Instead, the procuracy is also empowered to handle the people’s courts of civil, criminal and administrative cases, and can protest rulings or judgments on cases where he or she feels the court was incorrect. Because the procuracy is tasked with supervision of the court's administration of justice, it can be said that the procuratorate acts as prosecutor and judge -- both arguing cases and having a role in deciding the outcome.
Questions? Think the role of the procuracy makes sense, or that it makes justice impossible? Comment!