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More Chinese get free legal assistance: white paper

(Xinhua)

13:32, October 09, 2012

The graphics shows the number of legal assistance cases, consultation and total funding in recent years, according to China's white paper on judicial reform published by the Information Office of the State Council on Oct. 9, 2012. (Xinhua)

BEIJING, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- China has provided free legal assistance for more impoverished people to protect their legitimate rights, said a governmental white paper issued on Tuesday.

"The work of legal assistance has constantly improved along with socioeconomic advances," said the white paper on China's judicial reform released by the Information Office of the State Council.

China has gradually extended its coverage of legal assistance since 2003, and established and improved its funding guarantee system, providing free legal services for citizens with economic difficulties and parties to special cases of lawsuits, said the white paper.

The white paper shows that the number of Legal Assistance Cases totaled 844,624 in 2011, and more than doubled that in 2007.

The document also said, in recent years, legal assistance has extended from criminal defense to areas involving people's livelihood, such as seeing a doctor, seeking employment and obtaining education.

Meanwhile, the standards of economic difficulty have been established in reference to local subsistence allowance standards, the subsidies for handling cases have been improved, and specific funding guarantee systems have been established for five special groups including migrant workers, the disabled and the elderly, it said.

According to the white paper, by the end of 2011, China had more than 3,600 legal-assistance agencies, 14,000 full-time legal-assistance personnel, 215,000 lawyers and 73,000 grassroots legal service personnel.

In addition, a total of 28 provincial regions have formulated local statutory regulations on legal assistance. Since 2009, funding for legal assistance has increased at an annual rate of 26.8 percent, reaching 1.28 billion yuan (203 million U.S. dollars) in 2011, it said.

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