BEIJING: China has issued a guideline on criminal procedure reform and the role of court trials in a bid to reduce wrongful convictions.
The guideline by the Supreme People’s court and procuratorate, along with the ministries of public security, state security and justice, seeks to improve criminal procedure by exerting the court’s role in fact finding, identifying evidence, protecting rights and impartial judgment.
Reform of criminal procedure began when the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, 2014, decided to fully advance the rule of law.
The 21-clause document stresses presumption of innocence, and identifies some major problems in the current litigation system, putting forward a package of changes in the rules of evidence and investigation, and in the court’s key role: protecting the rights of all interested parties.
Courts, procuratorates and police should cooperate to ensure innocent people are not wrongly convicted, it said.
Clause 5 stipulates interrogations should be improved to prevent forced confessions. It also states that authorities must not oblige any person to incriminate themselves.
The guideline stipulates that courts should acknowledge reasonable doubts of the facts constituting crimes, and make decisions accordingly.