Second China-EU Legal Aid Policy Dialogue held in Beijing 


The Second China-EU Legal Aid Policy Dialogue was held in Beijing from Sept 8 to 9, 2015. The Dialogue, focused on criminal legal aid, explored how legal aid could offer an effective criminal defense and how to deepen legal aid exchange and cooperation between China and the EU. 

Criminal legal aid is a basic legal system that ensures criminal suspects and defendants of their legal rights. It plays an important role in the general criminal legal system.


 Carmen Cano, deputy head of the EU Delegation in China, speaks at the Second China-EU Legal Aid Policy Dialogue held in Beijing on Sept 8.[Photo/]

Zhao Dacheng, China's vice-minister of justice, said that the Chinese government has always emphasized safeguarding the rights of criminal suspects, defendants and victims. In 2012, China revised the criminal procedure law, expanded the coverage of criminal legal aid, and specified that public security bureaus, procuratorates and courts must inform relevant parties of legal aid information. The country has stepped up protection of the rights of criminal suspects and defendants and clarified the right to representation by a lawyer. A criminal legal aid system with criminal procedure law and legal aid regulations at its core has been established. 


Zhao Dacheng, China's vice-minister of justice, delivers a speech at the Second China-EU Legal Aid Policy Dialogue held in Beijing on Sept 8.[Photo/]

With the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Law and implementation of relevant adjunct policies, governments at all levels have fulfilled their responsibilities in legal aid. They strengthened institutional development, increased fund input and raised subsidies to ensure effective implementation of criminal legal aid. Cooperation mechanisms for criminal legal aid have also continued to improve. Legal aid institutes have offered duty lawyer service, and engaged in standardization of sentencing reform, criminal victim aid and criminal reconciliation. They provide legal aid services throughout criminal procedures to ensure their clients can get what they need in time. In 2014, more than 240,000 criminal legal aid cases were handled nationwide.

Zhao said that China's criminal legal aid work has entered a brand-new development phase. The 4th Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC proposed a trial-centered litigation system, which is a higher requirement on criminal defense work that includes criminal legal aid. The central government's opinions on improving the legal aid system require differentiations within criminal procedure law. The central government asked all parties to push for the inclusion of criminal legal aid in criminal justice system reform. On August 29, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed the Amendment to Criminal Law (IX), which offers more subtle protection to children, women and the elderly. Zhao said the move will ensure better development of China's criminal legal aid. 

He believes that improving the criminal legal aid system is a common task facing other countries and three issues should be solved. First, make full use of criminal legal aid to ensure criminaljudicial fairness. Second, improve the criminal legal aid system to protect the legitimate rights of parties in criminal procedures. Third, continue to improve criminal legal aid service quality by standardizing lawyers' practice. 

Carmen Cano, deputy head of the EU Delegation in China, said that the dialogue will improve understanding and friendship between China and the EU and play a positive role in boosting bilateral exchange and cooperation in criminal legal aid.