Press conference on working measures and effect of people's courts in the new era

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People's Daily:

At the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, China set the reform goal of improving the system of judicial protection of human rights. How has this goal been implemented? What progress have we achieved? Thank you.

Shen Liang:

Thank you for your questions. Over the past decade, the people's courts have integrated punishing crimes and the protection of human rights. The socialist criminal justice system with Chinese characteristics has been improved, and efforts have been strengthened for the judicial protection of human rights over the years.

First, we have deepened the reform of an adjudication-centered litigation system. We have implemented the decisions made at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, published the opinions on the reform of an adjudication-centered litigation system, and worked to establish a criminal litigation mechanism in which litigation is centered on the judicial process, judicial process centered on court trials, and court trails centered on evidence. We have strictly enforced the principle of the evidence-based verdict, improved the mechanism for witnesses, authenticators, and investigators to appear in court, and increased the witness attendance rates in court. We have firmly followed three procedures for handling criminal cases: conducting pretrial conferences, excluding illegal evidence, and conducting courtroom investigations. These efforts allowed us to fully play the decisive role of courts in finding out the truth, identifying the evidence, protecting the right of action, and ensuring fair adjudication. 

Second, we have worked to prevent miscarriages of justice. The people's courts have been admitted to a fact-based approach and resolutely took actions to correct those wrongly-adjudicated cases in history. In addition, we have made innovations on judicial concepts and strictly enforced the principles of legality, the presumption of innocence, and evidence-based verdict, to prevent and redress miscarriages of justice. In first-instance or second-instance trials, due to lack of evidence or the existence of major doubts, the people's courts acquitted some defendants who had committed crimes before, which prevented the wrongly-adjudicated cases from happening in a timely and effective manner.

Third, we have worked to improve the mechanism to ensure procedural fairness. We have made new judicial interpretations to the Criminal Procedure Law, focused on strengthening the protection of litigious rights, and worked to fully implement the litigation system involving the public trial and right to defense. Efforts have been made to fully protect the litigious rights of the defendants, defenders, and victims and implement in earnest the principle of respecting and protecting human rights. We have carried out pilot programs to achieve full legal defense coverage in criminal cases, improved the mechanism that makes it more convenient for lawyers to participate in litigation, and guaranteed defense lawyers exercise their rights in accordance with law and better play their roles, to ensure that judges sentence convicted criminals and no one should be prosecuted without criminal evidence. 

Fourth, we have worked to step up the protection of the rights and interests of minors. We have improved the socialist juvenile justice system with Chinese characteristics and published opinions on strengthening the trial of cases involving minors. China now has 2,181 juvenile courts, which follow the principle of "putting education first and imposing punishment only if necessary" and adhere to the guideline of "education, persuading and rehabilitating juveniles." More efforts have been made to promote the sentence of non-custodial penalties to minors. The people's courts have taken an active part in preventing and deterring juvenile delinquency. The number of cases involving minors dropped for years in a row. Thank you.

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