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Minister Vows to Speed up Judiciary Reform

China will see a busy year for judiciary reform in 2004, covering jails, notarial authorities and legal authentication organs as well as community rectification programs and government lawyers that are still new.

China will speed up the judiciary reform this year, especially to boost the reform of the jail system, notarial system and legal authentication, said Minister of Justice Zhang Fusen Monday at a national meeting of directors of provincial bureaus of justice.

The trial run of community rectification and government lawyers will be promoted, and the country plans to improve the national judicial examination, Zhang added.

Last year, China selected six provinces and municipalities, including northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, to carry out a trial run of the jail system reform.

"This year, more provinces will be included in the program," he said.

As a major part of the reform, China plans to separate jail-run enterprises from jails.

Chinese jails run some non-profit enterprises, usually small workshops, where inmates work as part of rectification programs and learn useful skills.

China is working to separate the personnel and assets of jail enterprises from jails to make the enterprises manage themselves, Zhang said. Problems have cropped up when the administration of a jail runs enterprises at the same time, he added.

The trial run of community rectification programs is also to move to more provinces as soon as possible, Zhang said. So far, six provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Shanghai and east China's Jiangsu Province, have tried out community rectification programs.

The Chinese government only hired its first government lawyers early last year, but the number of government lawyers has already increased to 958. Some 384 government departments in 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have hired government lawyers to guarantee that administration is carried out in line with the law.

Zhang noted that governments nationwide will recruit lawyers this year.

(Xinhua News Agency January 6, 2004)

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