China bans courts trying defendants in prison uniforms

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-2-26 17:02:32

China will forbid courts from bringing defendants on trial in prison garb to avoid prejudicing legal proceedings.

Courts are never allowed to ask defendants or appellants in custody to appear on trial wearing clothing with prison signs, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) said on Thursday in a document on legal reform.

In China, defendants are often seen shackled and wearing orange prison vests in courtrooms. Some are even held by the shoulders by police staff.

"The suspects are being accused but have not been confirmed as criminals, thus they can't be labeled as such," said SPC official He Xiaorong.

He said the SPC is "conducting close communication and coordination with the police and other authorities to implement this measure soon."

The SPC's document outlined 65 legal reform measures in seven areas and set a timetable for each goal, including to "preliminarily establish a socialist judicial system with Chinese characteristics by 2018."

A focus of the legal reform is to ensure the courts' fairness and independence with less official interference, according to He.

By the end of 2016, courts at all levels are expected to have established a system under which all investigation and litigation activities are entirely focused on the trial, according to the document.

Trials should be decisive in confirming evidence, establishing facts and reaching fair judgements, a role which they are not yet playing fully, and judical protection for human rights still needs to be improved, said deputy SPC head Li Shaoping.

Li also said, quoting the document, that judgement must be passed by the judges presiding over the trials, a practice which he said has not been followed in some places. Meanwhile, supervision over the judges must be reinforced to avoid power abuse and miscarriages of justice.

The principle of "judge by evidence" must be implemented and the rules of illegal evidence expulsion must be strictly followed, according to the document.

It also set requirements for judges' experience and professionalism and promised to form a mechanism for punishing judges who violate rules.

The public can apply to attend court to watch trials, but the number of attendees is limited according to court facilities, the document said.

It promised to make the trials more transparent via live broadcasts or updates on social networks.

Posted in: Society

blog comments powered by Disqus