USEUROPEAFRICAASIA 中文双语Français
China
Home / China / National affairs

China issues white paper on judicial reform of Chinese courts

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-02-27 14:29

III. Strengthening the Mechanism of Judicial Protection of Human Rights

To respect and protect human rights is an important principle set forth in China's Constitution, and an important character of the socialist judicial system with Chinese characteristics. China's courts have achieved positive results in the development of the mechanism of judicial protection of human rights through pushing forward the reform of the litigation system centering on trials, strictly implementing the legal principles that crimes shall be punished only under the law, judgments shall be made upon evidence and presuming innocent until proven guilty, scientifically applying the policy of balancing leniency and severity, actively preventing cases in which people were unjustly, falsely or wrongly charged or sentenced and protecting the lawyers' right to practice according to law.

Pushing forward the reform of the criminal litigation system centering on trials. On July 20, 2016, the Supreme People's Court, in conjunction with the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice, promulgated the guidelines on pushing forward the reform of the criminal litigation system centering on trials, which emphasize the principles that crimes shall be punished only under the law, presuming innocent until proven guilty, judgments shall be made upon evidence and centering on court trials, clarify the centrality of the judicial proceedings in criminal lawsuits, and require strengthening the substantialness of court trials and improving the mechanism of supervision over investigation and prosecution activities, and preventing extortion of confessions by torture, collection of evidence through illegal means and other illegal acts from the source, so as to ensure that court trials play a decisive role in finding the facts, admitting evidences, protecting the right of action and making judgments fairly, and the facts of cases found during investigations, prosecutions and trials will be proved to be true according to law. The courts in all regions have been actively pushing forward the reform of the criminal litigation system centering on trials, as a result of which the rate of investigators, experts and witnesses testifying before court has increased significantly and the rule of excluding illegal evidence has been widely implemented. In 2016, the courts in Beijing reviewed 129 applications for excluding illegal evidence filed by litigants or their attorneys, and excluded seven evidences by law. Anhui Higher People's Court, in conjunction with the Provincial Procuratorate, the Provincial Department of Public Security and other departments, formulated the operating rules for excluding illegal evidence in handling of criminal cases and the rules for collection, examination and judgment of evidences in drug-related cases, to standardize the determination of illegal evidences and exclusion procedure. The courts in Wenzhou, Zhejiang have improved the mechanism for protecting personnel testifying before court, promulgated detailed rules on policemen's appearance in court as witnesses, provided remote rooms for offering testimonies, devices for concealing faces of witnesses and other appropriate facilities, established the mechanism for protecting the rights and interests of witnesses in conjunction with the public security and procuratorial organs, and formulated the standard of subsidies for witnesses testifying before court.

Preventing and correcting cases in which people were unjustly, falsely or wrongly charged or sentenced. The Supreme People's Court promulgated the guidelines on improving the mechanism for preventing criminal cases in which people were unjustly, falsely or wrongly charged or sentenced, providing that in a case in which there lacks sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of a crime, the people's court shall pronounce the defendant innocent according to law, rather than imposing a relatively light penalty or otherwise imposing penalty on the defendant by leaving some leeway. On December 2, 2016, No. 2 Circuit Court of the Supreme People's Court publicly pronounced the judgment on the case of Nie Shubin suspected of intentional homicide and raping women, overruling the judgment of the lower court and pronouncing Nie Shubin innocent, thereby correcting the judgment on this major doubtful and complicated case that had lasting 22 years, and reflecting that the people's courts attach great importance to judicial protection of human rights and seriously observe the legal principles that judgments shall be made upon evidence and presuming innocent until proven guilty and other legal principles. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the people's courts have corrected the judgments on 34 major criminal cases in which people were unjustly, falsely or wrongly charged or sentenced, including the case of Nie Shubin, the case of Hugjiltu and the case of Zhang Hui and Zhang Gaoping (nephew and uncle), thereby greatly enhancing the public's confidence in judicial impartiality. From 2013 to 2016, the courts at all levels pronounced 3,718 defendants innocent as per law, ensuring that the innocent will not be prosecuted under law.

Deepening the pilot reform on fast-track sentencing procedure for criminal cases. With the authorization of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, since August 26, 2014, China has launched a two-year pilot reform on fast-track sentencing procedure for criminal cases in 217 primary courts in Beijing and 17 other cities. During the period of the pilot reform, the pilot courts tried and concluded 52,540 criminal cases using the fast-track sentencing procedure, involving 54,572 defendants in total, accounting for 35.88% of criminal cases in which not more than one-year sentences were pronounced by such pilot courts in the same period, and 18.48% of the criminal cases tried by such pilot courts in the same period; among such cases, 95.35% were concluded within 10 days, 65.04 percent higher than those subject to the summary procedure, and the judgments on 96.05% of such cases were announced at the court, 41.22 percent higher than those subject to the summary procedure. The Haidian Court in Beijing has explored the mode of whole-course fast-track sentencing procedure to effectively reduce the time of circulation of cases at all the stages. Under the said mode, the average duration of the judicial procedure in which the defendants were under detention was 33 days, about 70% shorter than that of the similar cases concluded using the summary procedure prior to the reform. Among all the cases subject to the fast-track sentencing procedure, the rate of plaintiffs filing appeals who also lodged civil lawsuits was 0, the rate of defendants filing appeals was 2.01%, the rate of procuratorial organs filing protests was only 0.01%, and the overall rate of filing appeals or protests was 9.52 percent lower than that of the criminal cases taken as a whole. According to a third party assessment conducted by the China University of Political Science and Law, the defendants' rate of satisfaction with the effect of the fast-track sentencing procedure reached 97.69%. Through shortening pre-trial detention and passing sentences on defendants quickly and leniently, the fast-track sentencing procedure can give full play to the function of social correction, and help the offenders reform themselves and return to the society. In September 2016, the 22nd Session of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress reviewed a report on the pilot reform, and highly commended the effect of the reform conducted in the pilot courts that applies the policy of balancing leniency and severity in criminal cases, separates simple criminal cases from those complicated, and ensures to punish crimes in a timely and powerful manner while protecting human rights.

Carrying out the pilot reform of imposing lenient penalties on those who admit their guilt and accept punishments. On September 3, 2016, the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress adopted a decision to authorize the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate to carry out the pilot reform of imposing lenient penalties on those who admit their guilt and accept punishments in Beijing and other 17 regions. On November 16, the Supreme People's Court, in conjunction with the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice, promulgated the measures for carrying out the pilot reform of imposing lenient penalties on those who admit their guilt and accept punishments in certain regions, which provide that if a criminal suspect or defendant of a case truthfully makes a confession on a voluntary basis, raises no objection to his/her crime facts as asserted, agrees with the proposed sentence and enters into recognizance, the people's court shall determine whether and to what extent leniency should be exercised in passing sentence according to the facts, nature and circumstances of the crime and its harm to the society and by taking a comprehensive consideration of the specific situations of his/her admission of his/her guilt and acceptance of punishments. In the next step, the pilot reform on the fast-track sentencing procedure for criminal cases will be integrated with the pilot reform of imposing lenient penalties on those who admit their guilt and accept punishments, and the scope of application of the pilot reform on the fast-track sentencing procedure for criminal cases will be extended to the criminal cases under the jurisdiction of primary courts in which the facts are clear, the evidence is sufficient, the parties thereto have no objection to the applicable laws, the defendants admit their guilt and accept punishments and agree with the adoption of the fast-track sentencing procedure, and the defendants are liable to be sentenced to not more than three years' imprisonment.

Deepening the reform on standardization of measurement of penalty. In the end of 2013, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the guidelines on measurement of penalty by people's courts to regulate the judges' discretion in measurement of penalty, which require setting up an independent debate procedure regarding measurement of penalty, and promoting standardization of measurement of penalty throughout the country. In 2016, the Supreme People's Court further extended the kinds of charges and punishments under the pilot program on standardization of measurement of penalty by including dangerous driving and other seven charges into the scope of application of the pilot program and extending the kinds of punishment from limited imprisonment and criminal detention to fines and probation. The Supreme People's Court designated some courts to carry out the pilot program to ensure the standardization of measurement of penalty and the punishment meted out being appropriate to the crime committed, and that the pilot courts mete out punishments in a more balanced manner.

Strictly regulating commutation of punishment, parole and temporary execution of sentences outside prison. In 2014, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the judicial interpretations regarding the hearing procedures for commutation of punishment and parole, requiring establishment of the system of public hearing on commutation of punishment and parole and the system of periodic publication of typical cases. In 2015, the information website on the cases of commutation of punishment, parole and temporary execution of sentences outside prison granted by the courts nationwide was opened, which is a unified platform for publication of notifications, public notices, court trials and judgments in respect of related cases. In November 2016, the Supreme People's Court further specified the requirements for the grant of commutation of punishment and parole, and unified the criteria for the adjudication of cases of commutation of punishment and parole to ensure the fairness and equality in handling cases of commutation of punishment and parole.

Amending and improving court rules. On April 13, 2016, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the newly amended Court Rules of People's Courts of the People's Republic of China, aiming to further strengthening judicial protection of human rights, making the courts be more open, convenient, civilized and safer and become venues where the people can experience fairness and justice. In February 2015, the Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Public Security jointly issued a notice, providing that when appearing in the court, the criminal defendants and appellants no longer need to wear their identification uniforms of detention houses and the criminals in jail no longer need to wear their prison uniforms, and that when the people's court brings a criminal defendant or appellant under detention to trial, the detention house shall turn over the criminal defendant or appellant in formal or informal wear to the people's court to reflect modern judicial civilization.

Improving the mechanism for protecting lawyers in performing their duties by law. In December 2015, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the opinions on protecting lawyers' right of action according to law, requiring protection of lawyers' rights to know, access case files, appear in court, debate, defense, apply for discovery of evidence, apply for excluding illegal evidence, lodge appeals on behalf of their clients and otherwise exercise their right to practice law, and providing protection and convenience to lawyers in performing their duties under the law. The Supreme People's Court promulgated the measures for soliciting lawyers' opinions in the review of death penalties, which require protection of lawyers' rights, including the right to access case filing information and case files, and provide that lawyers can directly make defenses to the judges of the Supreme People's Court, so as to ensure the fairness of review of death penalties. On December 30, 2015, the Supreme People's Court opened the lawyer service platform, on which the lawyers can, among other things, file cases, access case fillies and contact judges on online. As of the end of 2016, the lawyer service platform of the Supreme People's Court had collected the information of 21,846 law firms and had 88,000 registered lawyer-users. The lawyer service platform established by the courts in Shanghai introduced many functions that were firsts in the country, including online case filing, online payment of fees, automatic avoidance in scheduling of court trials, automatic reference to related cases, online application for preservation in lawsuits and online application for exchange of evidences. As of the end of 2016, 1,393 law firms engaging in lawsuit services were using the platform and the platform had received 1.86 million page views, directly accepted the filing of 31,000 cases and recorded a success rate of online case filing of 92.4%, thereby greatly facilitating the handling of lawsuits by lawyers. The courts at three levels in Zhejiang each established a lawyer service center to provide access to case information and files, meeting with judges, rest, dressing and other services, and explored the establishment of special facilities at law firms for handling lawsuit-related matters on line. The courts in Chongqing have introduced lawyer investigation orders to facilitate investigations and collection of evidence by lawyers, and in conjunction with the municipal bureau of justice and the municipal bar association, carried out a special supervisory campaign for the protection of lawyers' right to practice law, and held trilateral meetings on the protection of lawyers' right to practice law, to promote exchanges and communications between judges and lawyers and ensure proper protection of lawyers' right to practice law.

Enhancing the work of state compensation. The Supreme People's Court has formulated the interpretations on certain issues relating to the application of law in cases of criminal compensation, published guiding cases of state compensation, improved the cross-examination procedure for compensation cases, standardized the measurement of consolation payment for psychological injuries, and expressed opinions on further improving state compensation in criminal cases in which people were unjustly, falsely or wrongly charged or sentenced, so as to give full play of the function of remedy of state compensation. From 2013 to 2016, the people's courts at all levels accepted 16,889 cases of state compensation, in which RMB699,051,800 was offered as compensation in total. The victims in criminal cases in which people were unjustly, falsely or wrongly charged or sentenced, such as the case of Hugjiltu and the case of Zhang Hui and Zhang Gaoping (nephew and uncle), and their close relatives have received compensation in a timely manner according to law.

Standardizing the judicial procedure for handling properties involved in cases. On October 30, 2014, the Supreme People's Court promulgated judicial interpretations for the purpose of standardizing the enforcement of properties involved in criminal cases, including confiscation and recovery of properties, appraisal at the current price, handling of disputes in enforcement, etc. After the General Affairs Offices of the CCCPC and the State Council jointly promulgated the Opinions on Further Standardizing the Disposal of Properties Involved in Criminal Lawsuits in January 2015, the Supreme People's Court has, in conjunction with the related departments of the Central Government, explored the establishment of inter-departmental information platforms for centralized management of properties involved in cases, improved the procedures of advance disposal and pre-trial return of properties, defined the interested parties' right of action, and improved the remedy mechanism and the accountability system. In May 2015, the first inter-departmental center for the management of properties involved in criminal lawsuits in our country was established in Zhuji, Zhejiang. The center established a centralized information platform for the management of properties involved in cases. All the public security, procuratorial and judicial departments are required to enter the information about the properties involved in cases under their respective management into the platform, thereby realizing electronic handover of properties involved in cases, facilitating the handling of cases and standardizing the procedures for handling properties involved in cases. In 2016, the Supreme People's Court, in conjunction with the related departments of the Central Government, determined the demands for inter-departmental information platforms for centralized management of properties involved in cases, and established the inter-departmental information sharing platforms in three pilot provincial-level regions, namely Inner Mongolia, Qinghai and Zhejiang.

Editor's picks
BACK TO THE TOP
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349
FOLLOW US