New court rules help to protect suspects' rights
The Supreme People's Court has amended the Rules of Court to better protect the rights of all parties involved in trials.
Under the revised rules, which take effect on May 1, suspects on trial are no longer required to wear prison uniforms, vests or clothes that carry logos of prisons or detention houses.
The changes are part of the country's reform of the judicial system, said Hu Shihao, director of the reform office of the Supreme People's Court.
"The new set of regulations requires courts at all levels to strictly abide by the procedural law in trials and is expected to fully protect the rights of all people and entities involved in a trial," he said.
Hu said suspects are allowed to wear civilian clothes during trial, and under normal circumstances should not be subject to restraining devices, such as handcuffs. However, suspects in cases of serious violent crimes should still wear such devices because they are likely to pose a danger to people in a courtroom, he said.
Wei Jie, a lawyer at Jieqiang Law Firm in Beijing, said the revision has put an end to the decadeslong tradition of requiring suspects to appear in prison uniforms and is a great improvement in protecting people's rights.
The Criminal Procedure Law stipulates that no one shall be announced guilty without trial, and the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty is one of the most important rights embodied in criminal justice systems.
"The revision conforms to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law. It has a great significance because it removes the prejudice against suspects who wear prison uniforms in court, which helps ensure justice," Wei said.
Under the new rules, defense lawyers are allowed to bring their own laptops into court for trials, and they will enjoy equal status and treatment with prosecutors in court.
The new rules also suggest courts use video equipment to allow witnesses to testify outside courtrooms and protect the personal information of the parties involved.