'Forbidden zones' on news report listed for courts
Updated: 2006-09-13 06:37

A spokesman system has been established in all Chinese higher courts and the Supreme People's Court (SPC) to enhance the transparency of judicial work, SPC President Xiao Yang said Tuesday.

"We have now 65 spokesmen for courts at the two levels, including two spokesmen for the Supreme People's Court," Xiao said at a meeting about the courts' publicity work.

Xiao said the establishment of the spokesman system will bring about major changes in the courts' approach to news reporting and publicity work and their work styles.

"With the spokesman system, the courts will adopt a more positive attitude towards news reporting and publicity work," said Xiao.

He said the courts will release information on important trials on their own initiative. They will also release information to explain certain issues and refute rumors.

The system also irons out the possibility of random interviews without the court approval.

"All the important information will be released by the spokesmen. Other work staff with the courts can only accept interviews after media's applications are examined and approved by the court," Xiao said.

He stressed that judges should be particularly cautious with their words. They should not receive interviews without authorization or air opinions over important and sensitive issues on news media.

SPC Deputy President Cao Jianming listed several "forbidden zones" for the courts. They are prohibited from releasing content related to state and commercial secrets or trampling on individual privacy, Cao said.

The courts are also prohibited from releasing names, home addresses, photos and other related information of defendants if they are minors.

The courts will make public only the rulings as well as basic facts and reasons for cases not being given a public hearing, he said.

Statistics used in the trial of various criminal cases cannot be released without authorization.

Court leaders must examine cases dealing with national security, ethnic groups, religion, important emergencies, sensitive issues or involving foreigners and residents from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao before they are exposed to media, he said.

Those offering "improper" news sources to media and leading to a negative impact will get severe punishment, he added.

Cao further stressed that media should not make predictions, comments or conclusive opinions ahead of due judicial processes while covering cases.

The media should be responsible for the accuracy of the facts, evidence and laws cited in their reports, he said.

Xiao Yang said intermediate people's courts and grass-roots courts should also establish the spokesman system if they have the conditions required to guide public opinions and "ensure the public's right to know".


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