Thursday, October 30, 2014

4th Plenum and What Ruling the Military According to Law means

China's leadership met from October 20-23, 2014 for its Fourth Plenum.  It approved a document on improving the country's laws and legal system.  The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party's Fourth Plenum Decision, translated here (where its full name is  given), contains a section on the reform and improvement of Chinese military law.  This appears to be a first in China.

Plenum decisions set out the framework points that the leadership has agreed to (as drafted by large teams of uncredited people).   It seems likely that the legal staff of the Central Military Commission was part of those teams.

Several key points for Global Military Justice Reform readers are set out below, without deeper research. Further analysis will be provided as time permits.
  •  Bring all military normative documents into the scope of inspection, perfect inspection systems, strengthen the scientific nature, focus and applicability of military regulations and structures.
    • This seems to refer to issues of the drafting, review, and incorporating professional expertise into military legislation.  It likely refers to those issues identified by Chinese military legal experts earlier.
  • Expand the implementation strength of military regulations. 
  • Complete military legal system work structures, establish and perfect legal work organs in leading organs. 
    • This likely refers to expanding the system seen in civilian government bodies of having a legislative affairs office ( 法制办)to take charge of drafting and reviewing legislation.  
  • Reform military judicial systems and mechanisms, perfect uniformly led military judicial and prosecutorial systems.  
    • Issues with the military justice system have been identified by Chinese military legal experts earlier.  Also, the Fourth Plenum Decision anticipates reforms to the civilian civil and criminal justice systems and any of those implemented in the civilian courts will need to be implemented in the military courts.  
  • Guarantee the lawful rights and interests of soldiers.
  • Establish a military legal advisor system, install military legal advisors in all leadership bodies, perfect legal consulting guarantee systems for major policy decisions and military actions.
    • This seems to refer to having a greater number and role for military lawyers, and integrating the review of legal issues into major military policy decisions. 
  •  Reform military discipline inspection and supervision systems.
The hard work will be in designing and drafting the structures and legislation underpinning each of these points and implementing them.  加油!

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