China to blacklist officials who interfere in court cases

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will start blacklisting and punishing officials who interfere in judicial investigations and trials, state media said on Friday, as the country hastens efforts to boost the rule of law.

The ruling Communist Party unveiled broad legal reforms last year to make it tougher for officials to exert control over the judiciary. "The new system will act as a firewall to safeguard the independence of judicial departments," the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a statement issued after a meeting of the government's top body overseeing reform efforts.

"Party and government officials bear an important responsibility for realising the rule of law in China, and should refrain from meddling with judicial investigations and trials," it added.

Clean records in that regard will be reflected in officials' performance reviews, the report said, without giving details.

Despite the legal reforms, Chinese President Xi Jinping's administration has shown no interest in political change and has detained dozens of dissidents, including lawyers.

The party has also insisted officials should reject Western-style judicial independence, and in practice legal cases are often decided by the party rather than by judges, especially sensitive ones.

China's top court this week stressed that one of the five basic principles of legal reform was adhering to the party's leadership and "ensuring the correct political orientation".

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