China issues regulation to safeguard lawyers' rights



China has issued a regulation on safeguarding the rights of lawyers.

The regulation was made by the Supreme People's Court (SPC), the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice.

The regulation says those organs should respect lawyers, improve their systems to ensure lawyers' rights, and safeguard lawyers' rights to know, the rights of application, petition, and other rights of meeting defendants, reading files, collecting evidence, debating, raising questions and others.

Prisons should allow defence counsels to meet suspects or defendants, or to explain why the meeting cannot be arranged at that time, and ensure that the meeting should be arranged within 48 hours.

Procuratorates and courts should allow defence counsels to read case files, and ensure that case files could be accessed in three working days. The time and frequency of defence counsels in reading case files shall not be limited.

The regulation urges judicial organs to establish and improve related facilities to facilitate lawyers' work.

The regulation stipulates several scenarios in which investigation and judicial organs should listen to lawyers' opinions. During court trials, judges should pay attention to the equal rights of litigation and the balance between the parties of prosecution and defence.

The regulation also improves the relief mechanisms and responsibility mechanisms for lawyers' rights in practice. When their legal rights are violated, lawyers can make complaints to organs at higher levels, or they can address the violations to the procuratorate bodies.

An unidentified official from China's judicial organ said the various regulations have already been put forward to ensure lawyers' rights so that lawyers' practice are facilitated. However, problems still exist in some fields.

China now has over 270,000 lawyers in more than 20,000 law firms as of 2014.

The regulation also put forward measures to deter the illegal practices of lawyers.