Criminal Procedure Law (and revisions)


Criminal Procedure Law (and revisions)
For the first three decades of its existence, the People’s Republic of China had neither a general Criminal Law nor a general Criminal Procedure Law. Crimes and their punishments were defined, if at all, in a variety of documents ranging from individual legislative acts to Communist Party documents. Procedure was seen as distinctly secondary, and indeed as not the kind of matter about which rules were necessary or desirable.
The post-Mao leadership, however, saw a need for a firmer legal foundation for China’s criminal law regime, and quite quickly (in 1979) promulgated both a Criminal Law and a Criminal Procedure Law (CPL). The 1979 CPL was substantially revised in 1996 in order to bring its provisions in line both with the vast changes in Chinese society that had taken place since the original law was promulgated and with demands for greater rationalization. On the whole, the revised CPL is more hospitable to defendants’ rights.
It allows earlier access to lawyers, and makes court proceedings somewhat more transparent than before. It does not, however, allow the defence the right either to obtain witnesses under the same conditions as the prosecution or to examine all witnesses against him or her. Whatever its provisions, the CPL plays only a limited role in governing state-initiated punitive procedures, as it governs only proceedings under the Criminal Law. It is of no effect, for example, in proceedings under which sentences of up to fifteen days of ‘administrative detention’ or up to four years of ‘rehabilitation through labour’ can be imposed.
Hecht, J. (1996). Opening to Reform? An Analysis of China’s Revised Criminal Procedure Law. New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
DONALD CLARKE

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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