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Cover Stories Series 2012> Rule of Law> Video
UPDATED: March 9, 2012
NPC Amends Criminal Procedure Law

China's establishment of a comprehensive legal system is giving the public a chance for an unprecedented awareness of procedural justice. On Thursday, the National People's Congress session discussed the draft amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law, which aims to guarantee human rights and restrict executive power.

China's Criminal Procedure Law was made in 1979, and was amended in 1996. After 16 years, the times require more changes.

Li Qihong, NPC deputy, said, "During our daily work, we found the Criminal Procedure Law doesn't completely fit the current situation, especially in the process aspect. A new amendment should be introduced to better regulate the work process when it comes to the criminal cases."

One legal expert says the amendment is not just about proper procedure with criminal suspects, but protecting ordinary people in their daily lives.

Chen Guangzhong, legal expert, said, "The second article of the law has stated human rights must be respected and guaranteed. This is the first time such a spirit has been input in a department-level law since it was stated in the Constitution in 2004."

But some people don't see the amendment as progress. They've cast doubts on several of its articles concerning detention and arrest, and claim these proposed changes are "legalizing secret detentions." Chen disagrees.

Chen said, "This is a false interpretation. Before the amendment, there was a stipulation that under special conditions, suspects could be held under surveillance without their families being notified for 24 hours. The amendment proposes stricter limitation that only allows such detention in cases that involve national security and terrorist activities."

There's other evidence of improved procedural justice. For example, the amendment prohibits collecting evidence illegally and further guarantees lawyer's rights.

China is building a comprehensive legal system, and to meet the needs of the changes that come along with fast economic development. This is a long-term job, with the goal of guaranteeing that the Chinese people live with security, freedom, and dignity.

(CNTV.cn March 8, 2012)

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