Legal reforms are a key platform for President Xi Jinping‘s government to restore popular faith in the Party and judicial system amid simmering public discontent over miscarriages of justice often caused by officials‘ abuse of power.
China must “improve the requirements for appointing justices and prosecutors while upholding the principles of leading party officials and respecting the rule of justice”, an unnamed official in the top office in charge of judicial reforms told the official Xinhua news agency.
It did not say when the pilot programs would be launched.
To limit interference by local governments, provincial governments will pick judges and prosecutors and fix the budgets of local courts and procuratorates, Xinhua reported. The system currently gives local governments greater sway in appointments.
Panels of legal specialists at the provincial level will nominate judges and prosecutors, but the Party must still approve their appointments.
The reforms must “uphold the Party’s leadership,” the official said, signaling a willingness by the central leadership to improve its courts as long as the Party’s overall control is not threatened.
Critics have described the leadership’s call for greater independence for courts as a hollow gesture, because judges ultimately answer to the Party.