Pledge to speed up judicial reforms

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 January, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 January, 2006, 12:00am

Top court officials admit legal system has not kept pace with changes in society

Supreme People's Court leaders have pledged to step up judicial reforms after admitting that the legal system on the mainland has failed to keep pace with social development and people's expectations.

In an address to Thursday's National High Court Presidents Conference, Supreme People's Court President Xiao Yang pointed out that the current imperfect legal system had limited the effectiveness of court judgments around the nation.

'The undertakings of the People's Court have not matched our economic developments, while our capabilities of judgment have not been able to satisfy the accelerating growth of judicial requirements by the people,' Mr Xiao said in his speech, which was posted on the Supreme People's Court website yesterday.

He also indicated that the resources of the nationwide legal system had not kept pace with the increased daily judicial workload. 'The overall qualifications of our staff also fall short of the requirements of the party and the masses,' Mr Xiao said.

In order to solve the problems, Mr Xiao emphasised the importance of setting up a well-established municipal judiciary.

'Only when we are in compliance with the requirements of being 'people-oriented' and 'justice for the people', will our court judgments really benefit our people,' he said.

In order to show the determination for reform, the vice-chief of the Supreme Court, Cao Jianming , announced a series of new policies while submitting his working report to the conference.

In his report, which was also published on the website, Mr Cao listed eight key tasks to be achieved this year.

He highlighted the target of making sure all death penalty retrials should be re-examined by the Supreme Court by the second half of this year.

He said the Supreme Court would reform and perfect its organisation, with the government-appointed adjudication committee system being the priority.

'And we will reform the judgment and supervision systems over civil and administrative cases,' he said. 'In order to solve the appeal and retrial problems, building up avenues of appeal will be another priority.'

Other tasks included protecting the legal right of litigants, setting up a precedent system, improving jury systems and expanding pilot schemes designed to increase the assistance given to judges in the performance of their duties.

Chen Zhonglin , director of the law academy at Southwestern Politics and Law University, said that such measures showed the Supreme Court and central government realised the core problems in China's legal system.

'Unfair trials are very common in municipal courts, especially the remote regions,' Professor Chen said.

He suggested the central government introduce more comprehensive and independent financial budgets for all municipal courts in order to cut the ties with local governments.

'Only when local courts' financial budgets are directly supported by the central government, will they be able to handle their cases more freely and justly,' he said.

'But I think it will take a long time because it is definitely more difficult than to withdraw the approval for executions.'