China Communist Party introduces guidelines to strengthen legal system News
China Communist Party introduces guidelines to strengthen legal system

[JURIST] The 18th Central Committee within the Communist Party of China (CPC) [CFR backgrounder; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday released guidelines on how to improve China’s legal system in the upcoming year. The summary, released last week [JURIST report], also stressed that government authorities at all levels should carry out their work on track with the law while adhering to the leadership by the CPC. The proposed measures [AP report] aim at improving judicial independence by setting up a national circuit court, allowing for change of venue, holding government officials accountable for intervening in legal matters and separating judicial powers. In addition to judicial reform the meeting guidelines call for improved supervision of China’s constitution by China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress [official website]. Additionally, all elected or appointed officials and their standing committees at both national and local levels must take an oath of allegiance to the constitution in public, emphasizing the authority of the constitution as the law governing the country.

Recent decisions by Chinese courts regarding violence and unrest in Xinjiang and prominent political activists have led to increased scrutiny of the country’s judicial system. Earlier this month a Chinese court sentenced 12 people to death [JURIST report] and gave 15 others suspended death sentences for their involvement in attacks on a police station and government offices in south Xinjiang in July. In September China’s official Xinhua News Agency [official website] released a report [JURIST report] detailing the evidence used to convict prominent ethnic minority scholar of separatism Ilham Tohti to life in prison. Also in September the legal defense team representing prominent Chinese human rights activist Guo Feixiong [CHRD profile], decided to boycott [JURIST report] the start of Guo’s pending trial over procedural irregularities, which resulted in adjournment of the proceedings at the Guangzhou People’s Court in Southern China.