UNODC, China Hold Cross-Regional Seminar on Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems

Legal aid is key to a fair and humane criminal justice system that protects the most vulnerable in society and earns the trust of citizens. It ensures respect for the fundamental rights of suspects, accused persons and prisoners, while helping prevent corruption, court congestion and prison overcrowding.

In this regard, UNODC and the Ministry for Justice of China organized an international seminar on ‘Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems – Holistic Services & Equity in Access & Quality Assurance’ in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.

The event, held from 24 to 26 January 2018, provided a platform to exchange experiences in providing legal aid services, particularly the methods to expand coverage and enhance quality. Discussions also focused on approaches that would meet the specific needs of clients with vulnerabilities.

Over the past years, China has made strides in the application of the UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, with a network of over 3000 centres delivering services across the country. The Government aims at reaching populations in remote locations and establishing of quality standards and mechanisms to assess, monitor and improve quality of legal aid delivered.

Participating in the seminar were practitioners from provinces across China, experts from Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam, as well as specialists coming from various regions such as Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.

Following the event, foreign experts visited the Guangzhou Municipal Legal Aid Center and the duty lawyer station at the Provincial Court to learn first-hand the provision of legal aid in criminal matters.

Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime