China Officials Urged to Focus on Food and Drug Safety
Prosecutors must focus their attention on dereliction of duty by officials and malpractice concerning food and drug safety or the environment, a senior prosecutor from the Supreme People's Procuratorate said.
 
A student checks food samples at a laboratory set up at a Carrefour supermarket in Shanghai in March to learn more about food safety. Last year, prosecutors nationwide dealt with 5,184 major cases, with 80 percent of them involving food and drug safety or the environment. [Photo/Xinhua]
 
"These relate to people's lives and health, and we will punish anyone found guilty," said Cao Jianming, general prosecutor of the SPP.
 
Cao said cases handled by prosecuting departments have soared sharply.
 
In 2013, national prosecuting authorities investigated 13,070 people (up 11.8 percent from 2012) on 9,230 cases of malfeasance and dereliction of duty (up 14.2 percent from 2012), the SPP said.
 
In the same year, prosecutors dealt with 5,184 major cases, an increase of 23.9 percent from 2012.
 
Of those, 80 percent involved food and drug safety or the environment.
 
Prosecuting departments supervised the transfer of 3,984 suspects involved in 3,148 crimes from environmental protection departments to public security organs in 2013, the SPP said.
 
Prosecutors also supervised the arrest of 5,409 suspects charged in 4,290 crimes.
 
One well-publicized case occurred in June 2013 when six suspects, headed by Zhao Lin, were accused of damaging the environment by the prosecuting department in Hegang, Heilongjiang province.
 
Eight law enforcement officers from the Hegang forestry department were also charged with dereliction of duty, according to the SPP.
 
The case followed an earlier investigation into criminal activity.
 
In early 2013, prosecutors from Hegang prosecuting department uncovered evidence during an investigation into a criminal gang, headed by Zhao, that law enforcement officers in the local forestry department had accepted bribes and used their positions to cover up crimes involving illegal logging.
 
Premier Li Keqiang stressed that China will improve its food and drug safety supervision and strengthen pollution control, when he delivered the government work report during the recent two sessions.
 
"We can't shrink from our responsibility to enhance supervision of food and drug safety, as well as protecting the environment," Cao said.

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