China works to standardize penalty discretion, boost legal system reform

08:41, November 23, 2010      

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China has been striving to standardize its penalty discretion in a major move to push forward the reform of its legal system.

The Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate, along with ministries of Public Security, State Security, and Justice, have issued a joint circular demanding reform of standardizing the measurement of penalty be carried out in a comprehensive manner.

Investigative and procuratorial organs should pay great attention to the work of investigation and obtaining evidence, collecting not only the evidence that will prove or increases the guiltiness of a suspect or defendant but also the evidence that supports the innocence or decrease the guiltiness of a suspect or defendant, said the circular.

The circular urged procuratorial departments to intensify review and prosecution, and conduct an objective and full check of all evidence, while continuing efforts to improve the system of sentencing proposals.

Judicial administration organizations at different levels and lawyers' associations were told to expand the current scope of legal aid and arrange more legal aid for defendants who claim innocent, disagree with sentencing proposals or can't afford a defense attorney due to reasons such as poverty.

Courts at all levels were told to guarantee the independence in the process of the penalty discretion in court trials, and active participation of public prosecutors and defense attorneys in court hearings and debates, to increase openness and transparency in the measurement of penalty.



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