This past Thursday, March 29, 2012, International Bridges to Justice organized a roundtable event to discuss the impact and significance of China’s new Criminal Procedure Law (CPL). The event was attended by top Chinese and foreign scholars in the field, UN representative, and over a dozen diplomats. Held in Ford Foundation’s China headquarters, the purpose of the roundtable was to discuss the changes to the CPL, the effects it would have on criminal procedure in China, and implementation strategies. The event lasted three hours, and was received with enthusiasm from the attendees. The roundtable opened with an introduction to IBJ, followed by five substantive presentations on the changes, including: the new CPL’s effect on trial investigations, adjudication, juvenile cases, investigative techniques, cases involving defendants with mental illness, and the new anti-torture provisions in the CPL. IBJ’s China Director Aurora Bewicke presented on the new CPL’s impact on the work of defense attorneys in China. Presentations were followed by a discussion period, on topics such as plea bargaining, judicial independence, and implementation challenges. Importantly, the new CPL incorporates many positive provisions designed to protect the rights of the accused, including earlier access to counsel, expanded Legal Aid, mechanisms to compel witnesses to testify at trial, discovery procedures, additional protections for juveniles, the right against self incrimination, and enhancement of the presumption of innocence. The changes to the CPL will officially come into effect on January 1, 2013.