IBJ’s work in China began in 2001 with a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the National Legal Aid Centre of China’s Ministry of Justice. Since then, work has continued alongside government institutions and members of the criminal justice community in China to generate sustainable reforms.

Impact in Numbers

China has only 400,000 lawyers for a population of more than 1.4 billion. The practice of criminal defense law is also regarded as a high-risk profession, resulting in a very large number of criminal defendants unrepresented at trial. Despite this shortfall,  IBJ has been working alongside the criminal justice community to achieve impactful representation and change.

  • 11,674,637 people reached through rights awareness campaigns
  • 139,825 cases represented
  • 30,723 lawyers trained
  • 9,236 justice officials trained
  • 19 podcasts recorded
  • 83 eLearning Modules created
  • Over 23,000 people reached through a digital rights awareness game on the rights of juveniles.

Data as of June 2022

Systems Change

Strategic partnerships have been created with the National Legal Aid Center (now the Public Legal Services Department), All China Lawyers’ Association, People’s Public Security University (the country’s key police training institute), major universities (Peking University, Renmin University, Tsinghua University, and China University of Political Science and Law), 23 regional universities, and numerous law firms, regional bar associations, justice bureaus, procuratorates, many key civil society organizations, and with over 9,000 justice officials.

High impact successes include:

  • Interrogation-Stage Pilot Project: In Fujian, 58.6% of cases resulted in judgements adopting the defense lawyer’s recommendation, and 12% of cases resulted in verdicts of “not guilty.”
  • Standards on Representing Defendants with Disabilities: Standards adopted and piloted in at least 3 provinces, and the language from the standards was included in a regulation promulgated by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the China Disabled Persons Federation.
  • Duty Lawyer Program: Our program in Shaanxi Province providing early access to competent legal counsel laid the groundwork for the 2018 creation of a nation-wide Duty Lawyer scheme now codified in China’s Criminal Procedure Law.
  • Juvenile Justice Project: Spearheaded early access to counsel and the use of social background investigations for juveniles, both of which were later incorporated into the 2013 Criminal Procedural Law and various implementing regulations.
  • Pre-Trial Discovery and Investigation Pilot: Led to a 300% increase in the number of cases assigned a lawyer during the pre-trial stage. 
  • Model Legal Aid Centers in Anhui Province saw a 27% increase in caseload productivity
  • 2,000 Chinese police officers have been trained in modern investigative techniques to reduce the use of torture to coerce confessions

Defender resources

We provide training, tools, manuals and eLearning, developed with our partners, funded through grants, and resourced through pro-bono assistance. We have seen our eLearning materials accessed over 100,000 times.


What we need

There are many ways to get involved, to help make a long term difference. Please get in touch.

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Contact us at internationalbridges@ibj.org