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Chinese lawmaker calls for legislation on protection of witnesses, whistleblowers

Source: Xinhua | 03-11-2009 19:29

Special Report:   2009 NPC & CPPCC Sessions

BEIJING, March 11 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese lawmaker has proposed to make "as early as possible" a law to protect witnesses and informants to encourage more people to appear before court without worrying about retaliation.

Xu Zhihui, director of the Beijing Dingye Law Office, said on the sidelines of the annual legislative session, that currently very few witnesses would appear before court in China due to worries of possible revenge, though providing testimony is obligatory in Chinese laws.

"Witnesses and informants are vital in tracking down criminals and in trials, and they can greatly help judges find out the truth in civil cases," said Xu, a deputy to the National People's Congress.

However, Xu said only about 10 percent of witnesses attend court in civil cases and merely one to two percent are present in criminal trials at present.

Xu said the lack of a protection system would "greatly dampen witnesses' enthusiasm" and thus "bring negative impact on China's legal development."

A "defense" mechanism has been added to the country's trial procedures which require the appearance of witnesses, making the legislation on witness protection more necessary, Xu said.

Local procuratorates have tried some protection measures, such as "tip-offs in back rooms" and "24-hour temporary habeas corpus", among others, adopted by the People's Procuratorate in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing, he said.

"But these measures are far from being able to meet the current demand," Xu said.


Editor:Zhang Ning