03/06/2015, 00.00
CHINA
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All China Lawyers Association calls on government to drop the "presumption of guilt"

During a meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the lawyers association's deputy chairman criticised the justice system's "bad practices". "An arrest would be made on the day, then the next day you have the [suspect] confessing on television and some are forced to confess," said Zhu. For him, the presumption of innocence should be the guiding principle.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Zhu Zhengfu, vice chairman of the official All China Lawyers Association, issued a courageous statement against the dangers of the principle of the "presumption of guilt," which prevails among the mainland's law enforcers. He also warned against Communist Party interference in the justice system.

Mr Zhu spoke at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political advisory body that meets annually at the same time as plenary sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament.

"Why do we get the extraction of confession through torture? That's because of [the concept of] the presumption of guilt," Zhu told reporters on the sidelines of one of the political advisory body's forums.

"An arrest would be made on the day," Zhu explained, "then the next day you have the [suspect] confessing on television and some are forced to confess".

"And after the confession, they immediately say the case has been solved and they celebrate their achievements. So can you imagine how much pressure the court would be under if it wants to pass an innocent verdict?"

Zhu submitted a proposal to the CPPCC to advise the NPC to pass a law that would fully protect citizens' right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This would give weight to Article 33 of the Chinese constitution, which states that "the state respects and guarantees human rights".

Likewise, Zhu urged the Communist Party's political and legal affairs commission to stop influencing decisions made by the judiciary. He also called for proper checks and balances between the work of the police, prosecutors and the courts, instead of the current practice of close co-operation.

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