Procedural Justice and the Fair Trial in Contemporary Chinese Criminal Justice

Series: 

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.

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Elisa Nesossi is an Australian Research Council Early Career Research Fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World (Australian National University). Her research interests include: contemporary Chinese law, Chinese criminal justice, human rights in China, Chinese legal history, comparative human rights law and comparative criminal justice. She is the author of China Pre-Trial Justice. Criminal Justice, Human Rights and Legal Reforms in Contemporary China (Wildy, Simmonds & Hill Publishing, 2012). Her co-edited volumes include The Politics of Law and Stability in China (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014), Legal Reforms and Deprivation of Liberty in Contemporary China (Routledge, 2016) and Justice: The China Experience (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Susan Trevaskes is Professor of Chinese Studies in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at Griffith University, Australia. Her China-related research interests include criminal courts, policing serious crime, the death penalty, justice and the political nature of criminal justice in China. She has published sole-authored books in the area of Chinese criminal justice studies: Courts and Criminal Justice in Contemporary China (Lexington Press, 2007), Policing Serious Crime in China: from 'strike hard' to 'kill fewer' (Routledge, 2010) and The Death Penalty in Contemporary China (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). Her co-edited volumes include The Politics of Law and Stability in China (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014), Legal Reforms and Deprivation of Liberty in Contemporary China (Routledge, 2016) and Justice: The China Experience (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Contents
Author Biographies

Procedural Justice and the Fair Trial in Contemporary Chinese Criminal Justice
Elisa Nesossi and Susan Trevaskes
Abstract
Keywords
 Introduction
 1 The Justice Storyline
 2 The Policy-Implementing Structures of the Criminal Process
 3 Three Areas of Concern
 4 Conclusion
 References
The journal’s target audience will be a composite of both specialist and non-specialist readerships. Sinologists trained in a variety of disciplines, including political science, sociology, economics, public policy, and other areas, as well as policy makers, will find utility in up-to-date review articles included in the journal.