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Critics see ‘scary reality’ as China touts Xinjiang police high case clearance rates

Police in China’s far-western Xinjiang region ranked first in the country in 2021 for solving all homicide cases, while the region’s High People’s Court was hailed as a model for concluding the greatest number of cases last year, according to a Chinese state media report that prompted political and legal analysts outside the country to raise questions about the results.

Xinjiang’s Public Security Bureau achieved a 100% resolution rate in current murder cases for six consecutive years, ranking first in the country, while the region’s High People’s Court handled 17,600 cases related to people’s livelihoods in 2021, the highest number in all of China, said the March 25 report by the China News Service in Urumqi (in Chinese, Wulumuqi), Xinjiang’s capital.

“For six consecutive years, the police detection of number of homicides in Xinjiang has increased to 100%, with the number of homicides in Xinjiang falling to its lowest level in history, with the highest number of homicides detected in the history,” the report said.

The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (PSB) has in recent years launched a mechanism of average people “collectively assisting the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region [XUAR] public security bureau’s criminal investigation team in investigating major cases,” it said.

The report also stated that the PSB had implemented a “one file per case” standard, and through gathering complete past records of crimes, were able to find murderers from cases dating back 20 years.

Xinjiang police have been using a “one tactic per person, one plan per person, one measure per person” system for detecting criminals by using advanced technology and information, and identifying and analyzing suspicious activities, the report said.

Ilshat Hassan Kokbore, a political analyst based in U.S., said that such Chinese reports are unreliable because the Chinese police’s handling of cases is “completely obscure.”

“We cannot just trust the numbers provided by the Chinese government in their reports,” he told RFA. “This is always the case because Chinese police statistics or figures are unreliable.”

“Second, they don’t disclose their records,” said Kokbore, who is also vice chairman of the Executive Committee of the World Uyghur Congress. “They always keep it all the evidence undisclosed. No one can question the credibility of their findings or evidence. To sum up they detect their cases in the dark, not in the open.”

Chinese human rights activist and lawyer Teng Biao said that while the Chinese police in Xinjiang did not disclose the number of cases they have detected, the fact that they ranked first in the country is concerning.

“[Xinjiang police] saying that in six years they have raised the case clearance rate to 100% and reduced the crime rate to its historic low has a scary reality behind it,” he told RFA.

Setting up internment camps and installing high-tech surveillance cameras everywhere has helped in authorities’ efforts to expose “crimes” and to reduce the crime rate, Teng said.

“In the Chinese judiciary, on the other hand, the power of the police is greater than the power of the judge and the prosecutor,” he said. “If the police suspect someone, the judge and prosecutor will also convict him.”

Teng noted that the Xinjiang police were able to report a 100% case clearance rate and rank first in China because police routinely use torture to obtain confessions, which then are included in court verdicts.

“In China, the law enforcement agencies have a lot of power, the judiciary is not independent, and there are a lot of wrongdoing and murder cases that have been suppressed because of the lack of freedom of the press,” Teng said.

‘Justice in today’s world’

Speaking about the Xinjiang High People’s Court’s achievement, Teng told RFA that judicial standards should be fair, and pursuing speedy outcomes should not be priority.

“Chasing speed is a sign that China has turned its own judicial system into something else. It is incompatible with the idea of justice in today’s world,” he said.

Officials have conducted a major shakeup of judges and prosecutors who work in the Xinjiang judiciary, according to a March 28 report by the Bingtuan News Network, run by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC).

A state-owned economic and paramilitary organization, the XPCC, also known as the Bingtuan, has been sanctioned by the U.S. for its involvement in human rights violations against Uyghurs.

On Monday, the Standing Committee of the XUAR’s People’s Congress issued a list of more than 120 officials who have been dismissed or appointed to serve in the region’s courts.

Experts say that it is rare for so many judges and prosecutors to be replaced in Xinjiang at the same time, but that the Chinese government is likely refreshing the judiciary and prosecutors as it prepares for an upcoming visit by a U.N. delegation led by Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, to Xinjiang.

Bachelet announced earlier in March that she had reached an agreement with the Chinese government for a visit “foreseen to take place in May” to China, including the turbulent Xinjiang region.

Her office is under pressure from rights activists to issue an overdue report on serious rights violations by Chinese authorities targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities in the XUAR.

Up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and others have been held in a vast network of internment camps operated by the Chinese government under the pretext of preventing religious extremism and terrorism among the mostly Muslim groups.

“In preparation for the U.N. rights chief visit in the region, the Chinese government may have removed the politically unreliable judges and prosecutors and replaced them with judges and prosecutors loyal to the Chinese Communist Party,” Teng said.

Reported and Translated by RFA’s Uyghur Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.