Lawmakers Sunday adopted a legislation that would help defense lawyers meet criminal suspects and obtain evidence from June next year.
The amendment to the Law on Lawyers, passed during the 30th session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, includes three points:
-- Defense lawyers can meet clients after initial interrogation or other mandatory sanctions ordered by judicial organs;
-- Conversations between attorneys and suspects will not be monitored; and
-- Defense lawyers have the right to read all the files and materials related to the case, and can collect evidence themselves or apply to prosecuting organs and courts seeking evidence.
The existing Criminal Procedure Law does allow suspects to meet their lawyers after police interrogation. But it does not provide any detailed interpretation.
The Law on Lawyers has no relevant stipulation at all, and thus prevents many suspects from meeting their lawyers because of police objections.
Wang Rong, a Shanghai lawyer specializing in criminal defense, said many lawyers are unwilling to handle criminal cases because they often face difficulty in meeting clients, getting hold of case materials and obtaining evidence.
The amendment changes the situation, said Yang Minglun, deputy director of the legal affairs committee of the NPC Standing Committee, by "safeguarding lawyers' rights, especially in criminal defense".
The amendment specifies that defense lawyers' opinions and remarks in court cannot lead to prosecution if they don't threaten national security or are slanderous, he said.
"The amendment, to take effect from next June, will improve lawyers' working conditions effectively," he said.
Legislators are considering amending the Criminal Procedure Law, Yang said, to make the provisions coherent.
Sunday's legislative session also accepted an amendment to the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to enhance access to medicines when dealing with public health emergencies.
The session also adopted three other laws:
The amendment to the Civil Procedure Law - to address the long-standing problem of civil court rulings that are not carried out effectively;
The revised Energy Efficiency Law - stipulating that the ability of local governments and their chief officials to meet energy-efficiency goals should be a key factor when higher-level governments examine their performance; and
The Law on Urban and Rural Planning - to curb rampant urbanization and irrational land acquisition in rural areas.