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Full Text: Assessment Report on the Implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-2015) (8)

Xinhua, June 14, 2016 Adjust font size:

) Right to a fair trial

The system of excluding illegally obtained evidence has been further improved. In 2013, the Supreme People's Procuratorate issued Proposals for Investigation and Supervision Departments to Investigate and Verify Illegal Behaviors during Criminal Investigations (for trial implementation), and further improved the working mechanism for supervising illegal behaviors during criminal investigations. The Supreme People's Court's judicial interpretation on the application of the Criminal Procedure Law also provided for specific rules on the scope of witnesses appearing in court; the scope of appraisers appearing in court; the protection of witnesses, and subsidies for providing testimonies. In a special chapter devoted to eliminating illegal evidence, it clearly stipulated the procedures to apply for excluding illegal evidence and examine and investigate the legitimacy of evidence collection. In 2013, the Supreme People's Court promulgated Regulations on Establishing a Sound Working Mechanism to Guard against Unjust, False or Erroneous Charges in Criminal Cases. For cases having insufficient evidence, defendants should be found not guilty. It provided for eliminating all confessions extorted by torture or other illegal methods, not collected through interrogation in designated venues of case investigation, or confessions collected without audio-visual recordings of the whole interrogation process and those that could not exclude the possibility of being collected through illegal means. Between 2012 and 2015, the people' s courts at various levels found 3,369 suspects not guilty.

The right to defense by suspects and defendants was safeguarded. In 2013, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice jointly issued Regulations on Legal Aid for Criminal Proceedings. Criminal suspects and defendants who could not afford to retain defenders may apply for legal aid. In particular cases, the public security organs, people's procuratorates and people's courts should notify legal aid agencies to designate lawyers for criminal suspects and defendants who do not authorize defenders.

The right of lawyers to practice law has been safeguarded. In 2015, 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 issued the Provisions on Protecting Lawyers' Practicing Rights in Accordance with the Law, further detailing the rights of lawyers to know, apply, appeal, meet, review case files, collect evidence, question, cross-examine, debate and make defense, etc. Measures were put in place to make it more convenient for lawyers to participate in litigations, and improve the mechanisms for relief and accountability aimed at protecting the rights of lawyers in practicing law. It was clearly stipulated that related institutions should in a timely manner stop, and handle in accordance with the law, any insults, defamations, retaliations, and personal injuries received by lawyers while practicing law and offer protection if necessary.

A system of simultaneous audio and video recording has been put in place. Between 2012 and 2015, 3,512 people's courts nationwide were provided with full access to the internet and relevant data, and opened various services. More than 18,000 tribunals were equipped with the necessary technology to enable them to record each and every serious case. 2,160 long-distance inquiry systems were set up, making possible long-distance inquiries between upper and lower-level courts and between a court and a detention station. Procuratorial organs made it clear that people who handle functionary crimes would be held responsible for selectively practicing audio/video recording, or for deliberately shutting down the audio/video recording system in an attempt to prevent oversight. Audio and video recording equipment has been installed inside all interrogation rooms in case-handling areas of public security organs and detention houses, and the practice of audio and video recording in the interrogation of suspects has been started nationwide in accordance with the law.

Tighter checks have been placed on the application of the death penalty. In August 2015, nine crimes were removed from the list of crimes subject to the death penalty in the Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law, and therefore the number of crimes subject to the death penalty decreased from the previous 55 to 46. In 2012, the Supreme People's Procuratorate established the Oversight Office on the Review of the Death Penalty, in an effort to strengthen legal supervision procedures on the review of the death penalty. Since 2012, the Supreme People's Court has issued 56 exemplary cases of guiding importance, with 3 of them involving criminal acts where the death penalty was applicable. Second trials of death penalty cases have all been conducted in open courts. More importance is given to listening to the opinions of defense lawyers in the course of reviewing death penalty cases. When a higher people's court reviews a death penalty, for which the defendant didn't ask for a defense lawyer, it is required to ask legal aid agencies to designate a lawyer for defense service.

On January 1st, 2014, courts nationwide formally launched work on the standardization on sentencing. On May 1, 2015, people's courts started implementing the mechanism of case registration.

The Law of Civil Procedure and the Law of Administrative Procedure have been revised. The procedure of cases involving small sums and the procedure of cases involving public interest have been introduced. The evidence system, the system of publicizing judgment documents and the supervision procedure on trials have been improved. Additions were made concerning the conversion of the procedure of cases involving small sums to common procedures and the principle of sharing responsibility in evidence collection. A system is in place, which requires the head of an administrative organ that is being sued to appear and respond in court. The trial process and evidence regulation of cases of administrative procedures have been improved further, and individuals and organizations that have been harmed by illegal administrative acts are provided with a strengthened guarantee of their right to secure judicial aid.

A state compensation system has been effectively implemented. Between 2012 and 2015, the people's courts at various levels concluded 12,300 state compensation cases. In 2015, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly promulgated the Interpretations on Certain Issues Relating to Laws Applicable to Criminal Compensation Cases, which specified scenarios where criminal liability shall cease to be looked into. This further solves the problem of citizens being unable to apply for state compensation due to the procrastination and inconclusiveness of criminal cases.

(4) Freedom of religious belief

Freedom of religious belief is fully guaranteed. The freedom of religious belief of citizens is protected according to the Constitution and the law. Citizens have the liberty to believe or not to believe in religions. In either case, their legitimate rights are equally protected. Normal religious needs of citizens who have religious beliefs are guaranteed according to the law and their customs are respected.

Normal religious activities are protected by law. The State Administration for Religious Affairs promulgated the Measures for Confirming the Qualifications and Determining the Professional Titles of Teachers of Religious Schools (for trial implementation) and the Measures on the Granting of Degrees by Religious Schools (for trial implementation), so as to further protect the legitimate rights and interests of teachers and students of religious schools and regulate the schools' management. Between 2012 and 2015, the administration canceled or adjusted 12 items subject for administrative approval in the field of religious affairs.

The work on the protection of pilgrimage activities of Muslims has constantly improved. The State Council established the mechanism of the inter-ministerial joint meeting on the work of pilgrimage made by believers in Islam. The facilitation of pilgrims' accommodation, food and drinks, and transport has been further elevated, and the work on their physical examination and vaccination, medical service, epidemic prevention and pilgrimage security when they stay abroad has been improved continuously.

The construction of religious sites and colleges is supported. Between 2011 and 2015, a total of 200 million yuan was invested in the renovation and expansion projects of religious places in Tibet. By the end of 2015, all of the 87 temples scattered in 17 townships of 5 counties, that were damaged by the Yushu earthquake and placed on the list of religious places slated for reconstruction, had been rebuilt. Breakthroughs were made in the construction of the Tibet College of Buddhism. The college has so far trained nearly 2,000 monks and nuns, established the department of nuns, and opened several branch schools. The Gansu and Qinghai Buddhist seminaries in the Tibetan Language Family as well as the new campus of the Sichuan Tibetan-language Buddhist Seminary are to be completed and will come into operation soon. From 2012 to 2015, the State set aside a total of nearly 15 million yuan to support and assist the Islamic circle in repairing and preserving major mosques and religious sites that possess value for protection as cultural relics. The revamping and expansion project of the China Islamic Seminary has been completed. In 2012, the State invested 513 million yuan in the construction of new buildings of the Buddhist Academy of China. (mor