More duties and chances for attorneys
Last October, the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to strengthen the rule of lawin the country. To do so, honest and professional lawyers should play a more active role to promote the rule of law, because they are obliged to safeguard the stability of the country and defend citizens’ legal rights. For example, they can use the lawto help make just social rules and supervise the judicial procedure to fulfill their responsibility.
Objectively speaking, lawyers making efforts to safeguard national stability is in line with the spirit of the rule of law, because doing so is no longer only the responsibility of public security and procuratorial organs, and people’s courts. This has become a social issue on the premise that the country is in a sound working order.
Given this fact, any interference with or attempt to change the order will jeopardize national stability. But this can be avoided with the help of rules, under which power is exercised to protect the legal rights of all citizens, including lawyers.
In essence, the profession is designed to serve (the people) and rule (by law). In other words, lawyers have the responsibility to supervise over the process of rule of law, and realizing it should be their ultimate professional goal. The ongoing legislative, administrative and judicial reforms will further prompt lawyers to fulfill their duty of defending rights and regulations.
Such being said, lawyers should be allowed to express the impression they gain while supervising over the judicial process. It is to be noted that some of them have been threatened with dire consequences for putting their ideas in a relatively sharp manner.
In this sense, the proposal of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee to form a committee which will allow lawyers and attorneys specializing in government-related cases and company disputes to work together and support each other points to the trend of moving closer to international practices. If it is realized, not only will the number of practicing lawyers increase, but it will also allow them to play a bigger role in government organs and companies.
The significance of the legislature-executive combination used to be the highlight of legislation. But the “democratic legislation” of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee also requires the deeper involvement of seasoned lawyers, because it is aimed at improving the judicial practice and making it as rigorous as a “termination clause”, which some countries have adopted. It also calls for lawyers’ participation to strengthen the accountability mechanism for government officials who make wrong decisions.
The correction of cases involving unjust, false or wrong charges is just the beginning of a fairer judicial system, which hopefully will pass more withdrawal verdicts on cases that lack evidence, or in which confessions have been acquired through torture or other illegal means. The author is a tenured professor at China University of Political Science and Law. The article is based on a speech he delivered recently.