Saturday, August 1, 2020

Belated update on Chinese military courts

This contributor has been lax in contributing in the past year or more but will use the opportunity of today (August 1) being People's Liberation Army Day to provide a short update on a few developments related to the Chinese military courts.

A few days ago, Supreme People's Court (SPC) President Zhou Qiang spoke at an Army Day-related event to discuss judicial services and guarantees to the military.  As I've written elsewhere, "judicial services and guarantees" is a hallmark of Xi Jinping era policy towards and of the courts. What it means is that the courts, led by the SPC, need to do their part to support important policy initiatives and strategies of the Party and state. It doesn't seem that the SPC issued another policy document providing judicial services and guarantees to the military.

What this year's SPC report to the National People's Congress revealed was that there were over close to 500 cases in the local courts in 2019 involving crimes such as destruction to military installations, fraud by holding oneself out as a soldier and other related crimes. Most of the initiatives mentioned in that report about the military court have been previously discussed, such as joint cooperation agreements between military and local courts, giving military and their families preference in the courts. The report mentions the continuation of pilot projects on administrative litigation (akin to judicial review) in the military courts.  The SPC recently issued regulations on "responsible persons" appearing in court (see this comment by Jamie Horsley, of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School). It would be fascinating to see how that is being implemented in the military courts.  Also not released to the public is information about the hearing of cases in the military courts during the pandemic. SPC guidance on the hearing of cases would be applicable to the military courts, however.  There is much we don't know, as the cloak of secrecy over the Chinese military courts has not yet been lifted.

1 comment:

  1. Good to hear from you, Susan. Your insights into Chinese legal institutions, including military courts, are always welcome.


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