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White paper on political democracy
Updated: 2005-10-19 11:01

- System of people's jurors. After New China was founded in 1949, the state prescribed the system of people's jurors in relevant laws, and made detailed provisions for such a system in the Organization Law of People's Courts and other laws enacted later. The Decision on Improving the System of People's Jurors, adopted by the NPC Standing Committee in August 2004, clearly states the scope of trials in which jurors could participate, as well as the qualifications and selection, and rights and obligations of jurors. In line with the law and relevant provisions, the people's courts implement the system of people's jurors in earnest to ensure people's direct participation in and supervision of judicial activities.

- System of people's supervisors. Adopting the system of people's supervisors and placing procuratorial work under the effective supervision of the people embody the requirements of lawsuit democracy. Since October 2003, the procuratorial organs began to try out the system of people's supervisors in 10 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government. Later, this system was spread to 86 percent of all procuratorates nationwide. People's supervisors are selected at the recommendation of various organs, groups, institutions and enterprises, with such major duties as conducting independent appraisals and submitting supervisory comments on cases the procuratorial organs have directly placed on file for investigation but have later decided to withdraw or halt the prosecution of, and in cases of refusal to submit to arrest. They can also participate, upon invitation, in other law-enforcement examination activities organized by the people's procuratorates regarding crimes committed by civil servants, and make suggestions and comments on violations of law and discipline discovered. By the end of 2004, a total of 18,962 people's supervisors had been selected, who had supervised the conclusion of 3,341 cases.

- System of lawyers. The Lawyers Law, promulgated in 1996, initially established the basic framework of a system of lawyers with Chinese characteristics, and it contains provisions on the rights and obligations of lawyers in the course of judicial and administrative procedures, and other social activities. By the end of 2004, there were 118,000 certified lawyers and 11,691 law firms in China; the unitary state law firms had been replaced by the coexistence of a multiple variety of law firms, including partnership law firms, state law firms and cooperative law firms, with the partnership law firms accounting for 68.6 percent of the total. In addition, 148 foreign law firms from 17 countries had been allowed to establish offices that are allowed to operate within the boundaries of China, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region had established 48 law offices on the mainland of China. In 2004, lawyers throughout the country handled over 1.5 million lawsuits and more than 800,000 non-lawsuit cases. The establishment and improvement of the system of lawyers enable the lawyers to make use of legal means to protect the rights and interests of the litigants, and ensure correct application of law and social fairness and justice.

- System of legal assistance. Legal assistance is a key measure to guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of the disadvantaged groups and achieve judicial justice. Since 1994, China has explored the building of a legal assistance system with Chinese characteristics. Provisions on the status of the system are stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Law, the Lawyers Law and other laws. The Regulations on Legal Assistance, which came into effect in September 2003, set the basic framework for the system. By the end of 2004, some 3,023 government-sponsored legal assistance organs had been set up across the country, including 2,628 at county and district level, thus initially forming a basic network giving access to people with various difficulties in both urban and rural areas. Nationwide, some 10,458 persons are designated to provide legal assistance, of whom 4,768 are professional lawyers. Input of funds for legal assistance from the treasuries of governments at various levels has increased year by year, up from 18.69 million yuan in 1999 to 217.12 million yuan in 2004, representing an annual average growth of 212 percent. Over the past decade, legal assistance organizations throughout the country have organized lawyers, grassroots legal service workers and volunteers to handle some 1.1 million legal assistance cases, providing such services to more than 1.6 million people. In recent years, many social groups, NGOs and institutions of higher learning have also participated in legal assistance work.

- System of people's mediation. By people's mediation, it means to, under the guidance of people's mediation committees established in accordance with the law, on the basis of voluntariness from the parties to a dispute and taking the state laws, regulations, rules, policies and social morality as the yardstick, help the parties to a dispute to reach an agreement by way of ample reasoning and patient persuasion. To date, over 860,000 people's mediation committees have been established nationwide. Manned by 6.6 million people's mediators, they provide mediation services to about 6 million civil disputes of various kinds, and the rate of success exceeded 95 percent.

To further meet the demands for rule of the country by law and building a harmonious socialist society, China is, in accordance with the requirements of judicial justice and strict enforcement of law, improving the establishment of judicial organs, the delimitation of their functions and powers and their management systems, in the hope of establishing a better judicial system that features clearly specified powers and responsibilities, mutual coordination and restraint, and highly efficient operation, so as to ensure, institutionally, that the judicial and procuratorial organs exercise adjudicative power and procuratorial power independently and impartially in accordance with the law, better safeguard the judicial authority, safeguard the democratic rights as well as legitimate rights and interests of the people and maintain fairness and justice for the society.