The Ministry of Justice appealed to the public yesterday for
increased financial support for China's legal aid system during the
kick-off of a series of charity activities.
The activities include charity performances in Shenzhen, Zhejiang
Province and Beijing in October, November and December respectively
and campaigns to popularize the legal aid system.
The ministry's Legal Aid Center will also cooperate with the
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in issuing a credit card
whose holders will be exempted from the first-year's annual fee in
return for paying a smaller sum of money as a donation to the
nation's legal aid foundation.
Legal aid provides legal assistance to people who cannot afford the
services of lawyers. By the end of last June, nearly 2,700 legal
aid institutions had been set up across China. They have provided
service to more than 6.41 million people and handled more than
800,000 legal aid cases between 1997 and last year.
The lack of money is a major obstacle in the development of the
legal aid system in China, ministry sources said.
"The government has increased financial support for legal aid
services but the demand for legal aid is steadily increasing as
China quickens its pace towards rule of law," said Zhang Fusen,
minister of justice. "We still cannot meet the demand of the public
for legal aid."
Yesterday's appeal followed the approval of China's first legal aid
regulation. The regulation, which will take effect at the beginning
of next month, stipulates that the government encourages donations
from the public to boost the nation's legal aid service. The
donation hotlines are (8610) 6711-9276, 6710-4390 and
(China Daily August 7, 2003)