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China examines reforms for people's jury system

Xinhua, April 20, 2015 Adjust font size:

China's top legislature reviewed a bill that would expand representation for the jury system on Monday.

The bill suggested piloting a reform that would increase the minimum age for jurors from 23 to 28 and lower the education requirement from junior college to senior high school.

It proposed the requirement for education be lowered further in rural and poor areas, where highly respected individuals could become jurors no matter what educational backgrounds they have.

In the pilot, the selection mechanism for jurors would be changed from personal applications and organizational recommendations to random selection from local qualified people, Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said at the ongoing bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC).

Jurors can take part in more first trials concerning group and public interests, major cases that draw wide public attention and other serious criminal cases, Zhou said.

The bill also improves the system to protect jurors' personal safety, as well as the exit and punishment mechanism for jurors. Employers cannot fire jurors or cut their wages based on their commitment to the court.

The reform efforts go against some clauses in existing laws, including the Organic Law of the People's Courts, the decision made by the NPC Standing Committee in 2004 to improve the people's jury system, and the Civil Procedural Law.

Therefore, the SPC applied for authorization from the top legislature to carry out reform in some areas.

If approved, the pilot reform will be carried out in 10 provincial-level regions including Beijing, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, Shandong, Henan, Guangxi, Chongqing and Shaanxi. Endi