Revised criminal law to give suspects greater protection

Updated: 2012-03-12 07:34

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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Code of conduct

Criminal Procedure Law was one of seven new laws introduced in 1979, when statesmen say the country was shifting its priority from class struggles to economic development.

Yan Duan, 78, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law who was on the panel that first drew up the regulations, recalled that many of the original clauses were designed to address issues that had arisen from the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

Consisting of 164 articles, the 1979 code ruled that oral testimony "can only be accepted after confrontation in court", a principle she said was "a lesson drawn from the cultural revolution", when many people faced groundless accusations.

Characteristics from the times can easily be seen in the first version, which upholds Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought in its first clause, and says the code is to "combat enemies" and protect the people.

The emphasis on ideology was removed 17 years later. Chen Guangzhong, a consultant on the 1996 revision, said the code absorbed several suggestions from NPC deputies and was eventually expanded to 225 clauses.

As the code regulates criminal investigations and court hearings, he said that the more detailed it is, the less chance there is for disputes. The country's Criminal Law has about 400 articles, he said.

"Legislation is not stagnant," said Chen, the former president of China University of Political Science and Law. "It's a process through which laws are improved by lawmakers' efforts to adapt to new social conditions."



The draft (of the Criminal Procedure Law) marks the first time that evidence gained through forced confession will not be allowed. It is a major step.

WANG SHANGXIN, member of the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission

The revision covers almost every major aspect in criminal procedure, including evidence, defense, enforcement measures, investigation and trial systems, and the spirit of respecting and protecting human rights is embodied through the whole process. It clarifies the submission and approval procedure of death sentence reviews, and empowers the Supreme People's Court to interrogate criminals and listen to lawyers' pleas.

DAI YUZHONG, professor at Renmin University of China and NPC deputy

The revision doubles the number of articles related to evidence, from eight to 16. The proposed draft has enriched the categories of evidence that can be used in court, clarified the burden of proof and specified the standard applied in the excluding of illegal evidence.

YING YONG, president of Shanghai Higher People's Court and NPC deputy

The revision, which is an important part of the socialist legal system, should widely solicit opinions from lawyers and other walks of society for constant refinement.

WANG GUANGTAO, director of the Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the NPC

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