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Author: Elisa Nesossi

In many countries, pre-trial detainees are exposed to very poor conditions of confinement and their rights subject to recurrent violations. This Article investigates the rights and living conditions of criminal suspects and defendants in pre-trial detention centres in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Organised in six main sections, this Article opens by setting the context within which Chinese experiences of detention can be examined and understood. It then offers a brief analysis of the legal status of pre-trial detention in the PRC and of the rights guaranteed to detainees. In section Four, the Article investigates a number of fundamental rights of detainees by putting particular emphasis on the right to an adequate standard of living and right to health, the scope of (re-)education and work, the rights enjoyed by pre-trial detainees upon admission into detention centres and the issue of family visits and correspondence. Section Five offers a number of reflections about change, concerning Chinese approaches toward the experience of detention that I have noticed emerging in recent practices and discourses. Such reflections have been stimulated by first-hand observations in the field and, crucially, by conversations with a number of other authors in this book. The final part reflects upon the usefulness and significance of Western models and standards concerning the experience of detention. Such analysis demonstrates that in the PRC the legislation regulating the life of detainees contains provisions potentially in line with international standards. Poor conditions of detention are attributable not only to the shortage of resources but also to the lack of a sustained discourse challenging and problematizing the status quo. The existing system has so far failed to provide detainees with a clear voice to express their views and eventually their complaints. The Article may interest the scholarly community engaged with prison studies in comparative perspective, legal practitioners, NGOs and international organisations working on detainees and prisoners’ rights.

In: The Prison at the Crossroads
Author: Elisa Nesossi

In many countries, pre-trial detainees are exposed to very poor conditions of confinement and their rights are subject to recurrent violations. This chapter is mainly exploratory in nature and investigates the rights and living conditions of criminal suspects and defendants in pre-trial detention centres in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). First, Chinese domestic legislation in relation to pre-trial detention against relevant international standards are examined, followed by an assessment of the discourses related to the experience of detention and how detention has changed. Such analysis demonstrates that, in the PRC, the legislation that regulates the life of detainees contains provisions potentially in line with international standards. Poor conditions of detention are attributable mainly to the lack of a sustained discourse challenging and problematizing the Status quo. The existing system has, to date, failed to provide detainees with a clear voice to express their views and their complaints. To this end, this work may be of interest to the scholars who engage with prison studies from a comparative perspective, as well as legal practitioners, NGOs and international organisations working on detainees and prisoners’ rights.

In: Imprisonment: Identity, Experience and Practice
This review examines the literature on procedural justice and the fair trial over the past two decades in the People’s Republic of China. Part 1 gives a wide-angle view of the key political events and developments that have shaped the experience of procedural justice and the fair trial in contemporary China. It provides a storyline that explains the political environment in which these concepts have developed over time. Part 2 examines how scholars understand the legal structures of the criminal process in relation to China’s political culture. Part 3 presents scholarly views on three enduring problems relating to the fair trial: a presumption of innocence, interrogational torture, and the role of lawyers in the criminal trial process. Procedural justice is a particularly pertinent issue today in China, because Xi Jinping’s yifa zhiguo 依法治国 (governing the nation in accordance with the law) governance platform seeks to embed a greater appreciation for procedural justice in criminal justice decision-making, to correct a politico-legal tradition overwhelmingly focused on substantive justice. Overall, the literature reviewed in this article points to the serious limitations in overcoming the politico-legal barriers to justice reforms that remain intact in the system, despite nearly four decades of constant reform.

This paper reviews current criminal justice reforms that have been initiated in recent years under the governance platform Governing the Nation in Accordance with the Law [yifa zhiguo]. These initiatives are helping to reframe criminal justice processes to correspond with the broad governance intentions of President Xi Jinping: finessing center-local power relations, making the authorities in the justice system more accountable for their decision-making, and improving procedures that aim to bring about greater fairness and efficiency. We examine these ongoing reforms in two main areas: the handling of minor crimes and the punishment of serious offenses. We find that yifa zhiguo and the reforms made in its name continue to reflect a highly legalist and instrumentalist vision of law whose goal is to enhance Party-state governance to control dissent and crime more effectively through criminal law, to enhance politico-legal institutional credibility, and, ultimately, to sustain Party supremacy and social stability.

In: China Law and Society Review

Abstract

This review examines the literature on procedural justice and the fair trial over the past two decades in the People’s Republic of China. Part 1 gives a wide-angle view of the key political events and developments that have shaped the experience of procedural justice and the fair trial in contemporary China. It provides a storyline that explains the political environment in which these concepts have developed over time. Part 2 examines how scholars understand the legal structures of the criminal process in relation to China’s political culture. Part 3 presents scholarly views on three enduring problems relating to the fair trial: the presumption of innocence, interrogational torture, and the role of lawyers in the criminal trial process.

Procedural justice is a particularly pertinent issue today in China, because Xi Jinping’s yifa zhiguo 依法治国 (governing the nation in accordance with the law) governance platform seeks to embed a greater appreciation for procedural justice in criminal justice decision-making, to correct a politicolegal tradition overwhelmingly focused on substantive justice. Overall, the literature reviewed in this article points to the serious limitations in overcoming the politicolegal barriers to justice reforms that remain intact in the system, despite nearly four decades of constant reform.

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In: Brill Research Perspectives in Governance and Public Policy in China

Abstract

This review examines the literature on procedural justice and the fair trial over the past two decades in the People’s Republic of China. Part 1 gives a wide-angle view of the key political events and developments that have shaped the experience of procedural justice and the fair trial in contemporary China. It provides a storyline that explains the political environment in which these concepts have developed over time. Part 2 examines how scholars understand the legal structures of the criminal process in relation to China’s political culture. Part 3 presents scholarly views on three enduring problems relating to the fair trial: the presumption of innocence, interrogational torture, and the role of lawyers in the criminal trial process.

Procedural justice is a particularly pertinent issue today in China, because Xi Jinping’s yifa zhiguo 依法治国 (governing the nation in accordance with the law) governance platform seeks to embed a greater appreciation for procedural justice in criminal justice decision-making, to correct a politicolegal tradition overwhelmingly focused on substantive justice. Overall, the literature reviewed in this article points to the serious limitations in overcoming the politicolegal barriers to justice reforms that remain intact in the system, despite nearly four decades of constant reform.

In: Procedural Justice and the Fair Trial in Contemporary Chinese Criminal Justice

This article reviews forms of detention and their reforms in the People’s Republic of China (prc). We examine the changing scope and uses of both administrative and criminal detention powers in the reform period and the impact of changing politics, ideology, and law in reform of both detention powers and institutions.

In Part 1, we focus on the continuities and discontinuities in the ideology of punishment, the perceived role and uses of detention in shaping society and in social control. In Part 2, we explore the factors relevant to the reform or abolition of range of administrative detention powers. We seek to understand how reforms have occurred, where they have stalled and where they are now possible. We ask how relevant these considerations are to the reform of criminal detention powers and find some distinctive features, not least of which is the comparative rigidity brought about by legal codification. We also note that reform to some administrative detention powers has been accompanied by an expansion in the criminal justice system. Our analysis illustrates that not only is there a wide range of people that the Party-state considers deserve to be placed outside of society, but also that in contemporary China detention is still considered to be a very useful form of social management and control.

In: China Law and Society Review