BEIJING, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislature
on Sunday adopted a draft amendment to the Law on Lawyers which will make it
easier for lawyers to meet criminal suspects and obtain evidence.
The draft amendment to the Law on Lawyers was
approved after being put to the vote at the end of the five-day session of the
Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) after the third
The draft amendment to the Law on
Lawyers was approved after being put to the vote at the end of the
five-day session of the Standing Committee of the National People's
Congress (NPC) after the third reading in Beijing, Oct. 28, 2007. (Xinhua
attorneys have long complained of difficulties in meeting criminal suspects and
having access to files and evidence when defending criminal cases.
The amendment says lawyers, provided they have the
requisite papers such as their legal practitioner certificate, are entitled to
meet criminal suspects or defendants in person once judicial organs have
finished their initial interrogation or taken mandatory measures.
Defense attorneys and criminal suspects will not be
monitored when they have a conversation, the amendment said, and defense lawyers
are entitled to look up all files and materials relating to the case.
Defense lawyers are entitled to apply to prosecuting
organs and people's courts to collect and provide relevant evidence, and use
courts to get witnesses to testify in court.
Lawyers, with requisite papers, may collect evidence
themselves from relevant organizations or individuals, the amendment says.
To protect lawyers, the draft amendment specifies
that opinions and remarks made by defense lawyers in court - provided they do
not threaten national security or slander others - cannot lead to prosecution.
Judicial organs that decide to detain or arrest a
lawyer suspected of involvement in a crime related to a case during the
proceedings, must inform the lawyer's family relatives and his or her law firm,
as well as the lawyer association within 24 hours, the amendment says.
The amendment also allows lawyers who have been
practicing for five years - provided they didn't have their license suspended
over the past three years - to establish individual law firms.
China now has more than 130,000 lawyers working in
13,000 law firms. In 2006 alone, Chinese lawyers dealt with more than 1.8
million litigation cases and 1.15 million non-litigation cases and provided
legal aid in more than 5.2 million cases, according to statistics from the
Ministry of Justice.
The Law on Lawyers was implemented on Jan. 1, 1997.
It is the first revision to the law since its