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

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.


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