New Progress in the Judicial Protection of Human Rights in China
  ·  2016-09-13  ·   Source:


II. Further Improve the Legal Guarantee Procedure of Human Rights 


We have reformed the case admitting system by converting the case-filing review system into a case-filing register system. We have revised the Criminal Procedure Law, and implemented principles of legality, presumption of innocence, exclusion of unlawful evidence. We have revised the Civil Procedure Law to effectively settle disputes. We have also revised the Administrative Procedure Law to strengthen the protection of legitimate rights and interests of private parties in administrative lawsuits. We have enacted the first Anti-Domestic Violence Law to strengthen legal protection of the personal rights of victims of domestic violence. 

People's courts change the case-filing review system into a case-filing register system to better protect litigants' right of appeal. On May 1, 2015, a case-filing register system came into operation. People's courts should accept and register all cases of litigation, handle all those that meet the conditions of admissibility and prosecution, and ensure that all cases are entered and properly handled, and that litigious right is exercised without obstruction. From May to December in 2015, 9.94 million first trial cases were registered at courts across the country, a year-on-year increase of 29.54 percent; the on-the-spot case registration rate was 95 percent, among which civil cases increased by 26.45 percent, administrative cases 66.51 percent and criminal cases 58.66 percent. Difficulties in filing administrative lawsuits concerning housing demolition, land acquisition, and government information disclosure were significantly eased. 

Put in place a system to exclude unlawful evidence and protect the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects. The Criminal Procedure Law revised in 2012 has specific provisions on respecting and protecting human rights, and their implementation has been guaranteed through improving the evidence system, compulsory measures, defense system, investigation methods, trial procedure, and enforcement procedures, and by adding special procedures. The Criminal Procedure Law stipulates that after detaining and arresting suspects, the law enforcement agencies should immediately commit detainees and arrestees to custody in detention houses and ensure the interrogations of suspects and defendants are audio- and video-recorded. In 2014, the Ministry of Public Security issued more explicit regulations concerning the scope of and interrogation recording requirements for cases subject to audio and video recording. The interrogation rooms of public security organs and detention houses are all equipped with audio and video recording facilities to prevent misconduct in law enforcement such as extorting confessions by torture and obtaining evidence through illegal means. The Supreme People's Procuratorate issued the Provisions on Making Synchronous Audio and Video Recordings Throughout the Entire Process of Interrogation of Suspects in Work-Related Offences by People's Procuratorates to further regulate investigation and interrogation activities and strengthen protection of the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects. The Criminal Procedure Law outlines the scope of unlawfully-obtained evidence and procedures for excluding such evidence. The judicial organs should exclude such unlawful evidence if they find any during the criminal investigation, examination and prosecution, or trial of a case. In 2015, the procuratorial organs at all levels demanded the withdrawal of 10,384 cases wrongly filed by investigation organs, and regulated 31,874 cases of illegal conduct involving abuse of compulsory measures and unlawfully obtaining evidence. In 2014, the procuratorate of Shunping County, Hebei Province resolutely excluded illegally-obtained evidence in reviewing a murder case and decided not to approve arrest, and demanded provision of more evidence. The real murderer was later caught by a public security organ.  

Implement the principle of presumption of innocence to prevent and correct miscarriages of justice. In 2013, the Ministry of Public Security issued the Notice on Further Strengthening and Improving Law Enforcement to Prevent Miscarriages of Justice and some other documents to prevent cases of misjudgment and to strengthen comprehensive, complete and real-time scrutiny of law enforcement to prevent miscarriages of justice at source. The Ministry of Justice issued the Opinions on Maximizing the Functions of the Forensic Assessment System to Prevent Miscarriages of Justice to strengthen forensic assessment management and further regulate such activities. The Supreme People's Procuratorate released Several Opinions on Effectively Performing Procuratorial Functions to Prevent and Correct Miscarriages of Justice, scrutinizing all activities concerning evidence, procedures and application of laws and to improve the system of discovery, correction, and prevention of cases of misjudgment, and to hold to account those responsible. In 2015, the procuratorial organs at all levels decided not to arrest 131,675 people and not to prosecute 25,778 in cases involving lack of evidence or actions that do not constitute a crime. In addition, they appealed against 6,591 judgments of criminal cases that they deemed wrong judgments. The Supreme People's Court issued the Opinions on Establishing and Improving the Working Mechanisms for the Prevention of Miscarriages of Justice in Criminal Cases, stipulating that the defendants should be acquitted for lack of evidence and no one should be prosecuted without criminal evidence. From 2012 to 2015, people's courts at all levels acquitted 3,369 defendants. A number of wrongful convictions were overturned in accordance with the law. These included the following cases: 

. rape and murder by Zhang Hui and Zhang Gaoping, nephew and uncle   

. poisoning by Nian Bin  

. rape and murder by Hugjiltu 

. rape and murder by Xu Hui 

. murder by Huang Jiaguang 

. rape and murder by Wang Benyu 

. murder by Yu Yingsheng 

. murder and arson by Chen Man 

. poisoning by Qian Renfeng 

. murder by Xu Jinlong 

. murder by Yang Ming 

Carry out the pilot program of fast-track sentencing procedure for criminal cases to ensure defendants get speedy trials. In June, 2014, the Decision on Authorizing the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate to Launch the Pilot Program of Fast-Track Sentencing Procedure for Criminal Cases in Certain Areas was issued by the Standing Committee of the NPC. In August, 2014, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate were authorized to launch a pilot program of fast-track sentencing for criminal cases in 18 cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing. It concerns cases involving dangerous driving, traffic offenses, theft, fraud, forcible seizure, personal injury, picking quarrels and making trouble, or any other violation where the circumstances are minor and the accused may be sentenced to imprisonment of not more than one year, criminal detention, control, or a fine. If the facts are clear, the evidence is sufficient, the defendant voluntarily confesses to the crime, and the parties do not dispute the application of law, the relevant procedure shall be simplified, provided that it is in conformity with the basic principles of the Criminal Procedure Law, and the litigation rights of the parties concerned are fully protected. 

By 2015, 31,086 criminal cases suitable for the fast-track sentencing procedure were concluded in 212 pilot courts at the primary level nationwide, 33.13 percent of all cases involving imprisonment of not more than one year in the same period in pilot courts at the primary level, representing 15.48 percent of all criminal cases in all courts nationwide. 92.77 percent of these were concluded within 10 days, and the pronouncement rate in court was 95.94 percent; the appeal rate of the plaintiffs with incidental civil action was zero and that of defendants was only 2.13 percent. 

Regulate compulsory measures and reduce application of compulsory custodial measures. The Criminal Procedure Law further improved compulsory custodial measures, refined conditions for arrest, defined the social risk criteria of offences and reduced the application of compulsory custodial measures to standardize the application of criminal coercive measures and better protect citizens' rights of personal freedom. In 2014, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, and the Ministry of Public Security jointly issued documents to specify who should be notified when there are any changes in the place or time of custody, procedure of custody change, notification procedure and form of delivery, etc. as another attempt to prevent and correct extended custody. The procuratorial organs strictly abide by arrest conditions and procedures prescribed by law, with a view to being prudent when making arrest decisions and reducing the numbers of arrests. In 2015, the procuratorial organs at all levels decided not to arrest 90,086 people suspected of crimes but posing no social danger, and decided not to prosecute 50,787 people accused of minor offenses but not subject to punishment according to law. A review system on the need for custody has been established. After the arrest of criminal suspects and defendants, the people's procuratorate still conducts a review on the necessity of keeping them in custody. If this is not necessary, it would suggest the relevant judicial organs release them or modify the compulsory measures. In 2015, procuratorate organs nationwide advised the release of 29,211 criminal suspects who needed no continued custody or whose compulsory measures be changed. 

Improve procedures for juvenile criminal cases to help underage offenders better reintegrate into the society. The Criminal Procedure Law amended in 2012 added a chapter of procedures for juvenile criminal cases in the special procedures section, specifying the principle of "education, persuasion and rehabilitation" for juvenile offenders, sticking to the principle of applying primarily educational measures, and taking punitive sanctions as ancillary means. Judicial organs assign officials who have a good knowledge of the physical and psychological characteristics of minors to handle juvenile cases. The Ministry of Public Security revised the Provisions on the Procedures for Handling Criminal Cases by Public Security Organs, the Supreme People's Procuratorate amended the Rules for the People's Procuratorate's Handling of Criminal Cases Involving Minors, and the Supreme People's Court released a judicial interpretation applicable to the Criminal Procedure Law, further detailing the special protection measures for juvenile offenders. Public security organs at all levels set up special agencies or designated full-time staff to deal with juvenile delinquency in line with special requirements. In 2015 the Supreme People's Procuratorate set up the Procuratorial Office for Juvenile Delinquency. By March, 2016, 12 procuratorates at provincial level, 123 at city level and 893 at primary level had established special independent procuratorial agencies for juvenile delinquency. People's courts are pressing ahead with the building of juvenile courts. By 2015, there were 2,253 juvenile courts and over 7,200 judges of juvenile court nationwide. 

The public security organs, people's procuratorates and people's courts strictly implement requirements such as reviewing age, designating lawyers for defendants, and prudently applying custody measures in handling juvenile criminal cases, and notifying legal representatives and appropriate adults to be present. The judicial organs may take into consideration the family and school background, cause of crime, guardianship and education of a juvenile offender and use these as references when handling a case. Trials of cases in which the offenders are under the age of 18 will not be open to the public. If the offender is under 18 at the time of the crime and sentenced to less than five years of imprisonment, the records of the crime will be sealed. Efforts are made to educate and transform juvenile delinquents and minors involved in misbehavior. Since 2002, the juvenile relapse rate has been brought below 2 percent, and juvenile delinquency cases have decreased gradually to a ratio of 3.56 percent of all crimes in 2015.  

Improve civil procedure system to strengthen protection of social and public interests. The Civil Procedure Law revised in 2012 set up a public interest litigation system. For conduct which damages public interests such as environmental pollution, or infringement of consumers' legitimate rights and interests, the relevant units and organizations prescribed by law may bring a lawsuit to the people's court. In 2015, the Supreme People's Court released a judicial interpretation to specify the prosecutor, court of jurisdiction, and trial procedure in environmental civil public interest litigation. In 2015, with the authorization of the Standing Committee of the NPC, the Supreme People's Procuratorate launched a pilot program for public interest litigation in the fields of ecological and resource protection, state assets protection, assignment of land use right of state-owned land, food and drug safety, etc. The pilot procuratorates launched pre-trial procedure in 325 cases, gave suggestions and urged relevant administrative organs to take action or correct 224 violations and some social organizations to institute six public interest litigations. In cases of non-performance of duties, or in absence of social organizations taking any action, while public interests are being continually damaged, the procuratorial organs may institute public interest litigations. In 2015, there were 12 such cases. 

Formulate and implement Anti-Domestic Violence Law to strengthen legal protection of the personal right of victims. The revised Civil Procedure Law stipulates provisions for behavior regulation and defines the legal basis for rulings on personal protection. In December 2015, the Standing Committee of the NPC adopted the Anti-Domestic Violence Law, which stipulates that the offender should be given a written admonition, or subject to public security punishment or criminal sanctions based on the seriousness of the case. A personal safety protection writ system was set up for the first time to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of victims of domestic violence, particularly minors, the elderly, the disabled, and pregnant and lactating women. The Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice jointly released the Opinions on Handling Domestic Violence Cases in Accordance with Law to strengthen timely judicial intervention in cases of domestic violence. From 2014 to 2015, the Supreme People's Court released 15 typical cases involving domestic violence, providing judicial guidance to further protect the legitimate rights and interests of women, minors, and the elderly. The people's court of Yuexiu District, Guangzhou City accepted an application for personal safety protection from a woman named Lin, and issued a Personal Safety Protection Writ, forbidding respondent Xu, her husband, from inflicting violence on her and her family, and from interfering with the normal life of her and her family by harassing or tracking, and prohibiting his presence within 200 meters of her residence to effectively protect the personal safety of the applicant.  

Reform the administrative litigation system to protect the legitimate rights and interests of private parties to administrative lawsuits. The revised Administrative Procedure Law in 2014 aimed to resolve difficulties in filing, adjudication, and execution of court rulings. It specifies that administrative agencies are not allowed to interfere with or impede the admission of administrative cases by the people's courts. In handling administrative cases, the people's courts can review regulatory documents formulated by ministries under the State Council, local people's governments and their departments, and if they find them unlawful, such documents cannot be used as references of legality in administrative cases and people's courts should offer suggestions to the enactment bodies. It also stipulates that if the reconsideration organ's decision sustains the original administrative action, the administrative organ taking the original administrative action and the reconsideration organ shall be co-defendants. The individual in charge of an administrative organ against which a complaint is filed shall appear in court to respond to the complaint. Measures should be improved to motivate administrative organs to implement effective judgments, and if they refuse to implement such judgments, convictions or mediation papers, people's courts may impose fines on or arrest leading members of administrative organs, persons in direct charge and others held accountable. 


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