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Top court to publicize names of convicted

By Cao Yin in Shenzhen, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2013-11-29 07:01

Motion intended to increase public oversight and credibility

The Supreme People's Court ordered on Thursday that the progress of all trials and the real names of those involved should be disclosed - except in cases of divorce, inheritance or verdicts involving light punishment.

Private information of convicted parties, including their home address, phone number and identity card number will be withheld, Sun Jungong, spokesman of the top court, said on Thursday.

Sun said people who reoffend are more dangerous to society, "which is why we insist on publishing their real names, hoping to guarantee a safe environment for the public and enhance their awareness of security", said Sun.

Real-name disclosure gives people the right to understand and supervise judicial work, and will improve credibility, he said.

Information about victims, their attorneys and witnesses will not be revealed.

In addition, those who are sentenced to less than three years and are first-time offenders will not have their names disclosed, according to the interpretation, which takes effect on Jan 1.

Verdicts involving State security, minors, or cases that end up in mediation will not be made public.

Judges must put verdicts online within seven days, "which can avoid some courts delaying the disclosure process", said He Xiaorong, director of the top court's judicial reform office.

"If judges think their judgments are not suitable to be disclosed, then in addition to the three situations above they must also explain the reasons for non-disclosure," he said.

On Wednesday, the top court shared online verdicts from more than 3,000 courts across the country on its website, "but I have to say most are from developed areas", He said.

"Therefore, we'll push courts in central and western parts of China to post verdicts online within five years," he added.

However, some court officers and experts expressed concerns.

Wang Chen, president of the intermediate people's court in Wuhan, Hubei province, said a major problem for grassroots courts in boosting judicial transparency is money.

"The cost of tribunals installing advanced video recording and online platforms is a large sum of investment for courts in rural areas," he said.

Also, some older judges are unwilling to learn or find it difficult to adapt to technology, according to Wang.

Lyu Yao, vice-president of Sichuan High People's Court, echoed Wang, saying putting verdicts online has added to the workload for judges.

"Take the intermediate people's court in Chengdu as an example. A judge has to tackle more than 300 cases a year. So if he or she is required to ensure all verdicts are uploaded online, the pressure will be much bigger," Lyu added.

Cheng Lei, an associate law professor at Renmin University of China, agreed and said what the courts should disclose, in fact, are controversial cases or the ones that will have great judicial effect.

"The job of disclosure tends to become shallow work if we require courts to disclose unselectively," he added.

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