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A Critique of Human Rights Protection for Suspects in the Chinese Criminal Justice System: An Examination of the Extent to which There Is and Could in Future Be Compatibility between Chinese Law and Practice and International Human Rights Norms

LU, YANBIN (2010) A Critique of Human Rights Protection for Suspects in the Chinese Criminal Justice System: An Examination of the Extent to which There Is and Could in Future Be Compatibility between Chinese Law and Practice and International Human Rights Norms. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This paper presents a critical analysis of the current human rights protection for suspects in the criminal justice system of China, evaluating them from the view of international human rights law and practice, in particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR) and European Convention of Human Rights(ECHR). The theme that runs through the paper is whether the right to fair trial is practically and adequately available to the suspect in China according to the established international standards. The hypothesis is that by addressing the distance between the Chinese system and international standards on the issue of human rights protection for suspects in the pre-trail criminal procedure, and the causes for this distance, the direction of further reform for criminal justice system will become clearer and more practical. The ultimate purpose of this paper is to consider how to handle the relationship between crime control and human rights protection, when the crime rates in China have generally been rising along with the high-speed economic development in recent years.

Before outlining the performance of China, this paper considers the current understanding and interpretation of the relevant standards in ICCPR and ECHR. Extensive consideration is then given to weigh criminal procedure law and its practice in China against those international standards in a new detailed part. Taking into account the highly influential effects of China’s traditional legal culture and special social situation, the paper is devoted to investigate four most pressing issues regarding the continuing Chinese criminal justice reform on the pre-trial procedure in different chapters: guiding ideologies and basic principles, the pre-trial compulsory measures system, prevention of the use of illegal evidence obtained through torture and the right to legal counsel before trial. This comprehensive examination shows the significant progress regarding fair trial rights for suspects China has made in meeting international standards set in ICCPR, in particular the Criminal Procedure Law of 1996. The barriers and challenges that impair the criminal procedural rights for suspects and impede the proper enforcement of the existing criminal justice system to come in line with international standards are also highlighted with possible suggestions of improvements. These problems root in current social, cultural and institutional conditions under which the criminal justice system operates, including difficulties in changing the traditional ideology, the deficiencies and failure with the law itself for certain issues, the incorrect and ineffective enforcement of the law, and a severe shortage of professionally qualified judges, prosecutors, police and lawyers.

As a result, the practices in human rights violation against suspects that subsequent reforms have been trying to eradicate still remain in the Chinese criminal justice system. The thesis concludes with the allegation that the introduction of some key rights into Chinese criminal justice system to provide greater protection to its suspects for preventing possible stage power abuse is a step in the right direction, but further procedural safeguards are necessary to ensure an effective rebalance of China’s criminal justice system. Apart from improving its legal system to fully comply with international human rights standard, the reform must fit within the Chinese culture and way of life. Therefore, the government must consider further actions to address and develop the cultural and social conditions of the Chinese criminal justice system.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Sep 2010 09:48

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