The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has hosted a specialist workshop in London for judges from the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China, on the right to a fair trial. The emphasis of the workshop was placed on the role of the judiciary as a safeguard against unlawful arrest and detention and guarantor of fair trial rights. Specifically, the workshop focussed on the:

  • right of access to, and assistance of, a lawyer;
  • rights of detainees and judicial review of detentions;
  • right to a fair and public hearing; and
  • defence rights in criminal proceedings.

The IBAHRI workshop is a component of a two-week visit to the United Kingdom by a group of 14 Chinese judges, organised by the Great Britain China Centre, aiming to build capacity on the implementation of China’s amended Criminal Procedure Law, which came into force on 1 January 2013 and provides that only legally obtained evidence be adduced at trial, and prohibits the use of confession evidence obtained through torture or extortion.

IBAHRI Co-Chair Sternford Moyo said, ‘Judges play a particularly important role in guaranteeing fair trial rights and China’s amended Criminal Procedure Law (2013) has introduced a number of positive elements that will aid the judge’s role. For example, Article 2 should now ensure the respect for and safeguard of human rights and, Article 5 should prohibit the use of evidence obtained through torture or extortion. While these amendments are welcomed to strengthen procedural protections for suspects and defendants in China, their true impact depends on their implementation in court proceedings.’ He added, ‘The IBAHRI workshop provides a forum for dialogue exchange between judges from China and other legal professionals which is essential for the full appreciation of the importance of affording defendants due process rights.’

The IBAHRI workshop was led by Sir Anthony Hooper, inaugural Judicial Fellow and Honorary Professor of the Judicial Institute of University College and former Lord Justice of Appeal, at the London, UK, office of the International Bar Association on Thursday 26 June 2014.