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Spokesman System in Courts Help to Enhance Transparency
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Legal experts have agreed the spokesman system in Chinese courts will help promote public trials, enhance transparency and ensure the media and the public's right to information.

At a symposium organized by the China Law Society on Tuesday, legal experts discussed the spokesman system established in all Chinese higher courts and the Supreme People's Court.

Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court, announced last week that 65 spokesmen for courts, including two spokesmen for the Supreme People's Court, had been appointed and random interviews with judges or other court staff had been banned.

Zhan Zhongle, professor with the Beijing University Law School, proposed that intermediate courts should also establish the spokesman system.

"News released by the courts should not focus on legal explanations, but rather case trials and rulings that will raise public interest or involve new legal frontiers," Zhan said.

"These cases are usually tried at intermediate courts, so it's necessary to establish the spokesman system at that level," he said.

Fang Liufang, professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, said the spokesman system should not be used as away to "unify" the media reporting and courts should release adequate information to generate credibility with the public.

Fang said information regarding public trials and legal charges should all be released on a regular basis.

Under the system, the courts will release information on important trials on their own initiative. They will also release information to explain certain issues and refute rumors.

The media should critically report the information released by the courts and the courts should correctly deal with criticism and supervision by the media, Zhou Ze, associate professor at the China Youth University for Political Science.

Yang Run, president of the People's Court Daily, said the system imposed no restrictions on media reporting, but regulated how court spokesmen worked.

The courts are prohibited from releasing content related to state and commercial secrets or infringing on individual privacy as well as releasing names, home addresses, photos and other related information of defendants if they are minors.

Yang said that some media reports had interfered with legal procedures and called for "scientific" reporting by the media.

(Xinhua News Agency September 20, 2006)

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