Report: Judiciary protects human rights
Editor's Note: China’s judicial system has improved human rights protections since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, according to a summary published on Saturday under the name “Qi Ju” in the overseas edition of People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the CPC. The article was originally published in Chinese. Following is a translated summary, edited for length and clarity:
The judiciary is the last line of defense in safeguarding social fairness and justice. Since 2012, significant achievements have been made in promoting legislation based on rational analysis, strict law enforcement, judicial justice and observance of the law by all citizens.
The country has strengthened judicial protections of human rights, including efforts to allocate judicial powers and responsibilities in a more rational way and improving accountability and transparency.
The country has abolished the system of re-education through labor and established a national judicial assistance system.
Reforms have been advanced to ensure that cases are filed and properly handled. Judicial organs have implemented the principle of presumption of innocence and exclusion of unlawful evidence.
China strictly limits the death penalty and employs it with prudence.
Detainees’ rights and interests are guaranteed by improved conditions of prisons and detention houses and enhanced scrutiny of supervisory activities. Commutation, parole and execution of sentences outside prison safeguards detainees’ personal dignity, safety, property and the rights of defense and appeal.
China has made or revised laws and regulations to ensure lawyers’ right of practice. In 2015, regulations were issued to make clear various measures to protect lawyers’ rights of practice, including the right to know, to meet their clients and read case files.
By March 2017, all 31 provincial-level lawyer associations had established lawyer rights protection centers. In April, a circular was jointly issued by various authorities to further clarify different departments’ duties in safeguarding lawyers’ rights to practice.
Judicial organs nationwide have implemented the principle of the presumption of innocence to prevent and correct miscarriages of justice.
In 2013, the Ministry of Public Security issued a circular on improving law enforcement to prevent miscarriages, along with other documents to prevent improper verdicts and improve real-time scrutiny of law enforcement.
The Ministry of Justice strengthened forensic assessment management and further regulated such activities, and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate released a circular to prevent and correct miscarriages of justice by improving procuratorial functions, including scrutinizing all activities concerning evidence, procedures and application of law, improving the system of discovery, correcting and preventing improper verdicts and holding those responsible accountable.
The Supreme People’s Court stipulated that defendants should be acquitted if evidence is insufficient.
Rules of evidence
China has clarified its laws to exclude unlawful evidence and protect the rights and interests of criminal suspects.
The Criminal Procedure Law revised in 2012 makes clear that confessions extorted by torture, or witness testimony and depositions of victims obtained illegally, such as by violence or threats, should be excluded from trials.
In June, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security, and the Ministry of Justice jointly released a regulation on the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence in criminal cases.
Defenders of criminal suspects are allowed to ask that illegal evidence be ruled out during investigations.