During my research on legal systems across the globe, I thought that it would be interesting to choose the country with the worst framework of courts. Surprisingly, the country was shockingly easy to identify. The People’s Republic of China. (Though China does not remotely resemble a republic).
The goal of the Communist Chinese justice system is to protect the interests of the state, not the individual. State intimidation to control the citizens is the No. 1 aim. Quite plainly, there is no independent judiciary in China. The courts are regarded as weak and subordinate to the Communist Party and the National People’s Congress. Chinese justice is not based on the idea of innocent until proven guilty. For the most part, one is guilty until proven innocent. People charged with crimes are nearly always convicted and sentences are rarely overturned.
China has what they consider a “constitution” with laws that are not all that different from laws in Western countries. The only problem is that these laws are not enforced. They are simply ignored. There is a common saying in Communist China: “Power is greater than the law, money is greater than the law and connections are greater than the law.”
China’s criminal justice system also heavily favors the secret police and prosecutors. The vast majority of cases are made based on confessions by suspects who have no access to defense lawyers until long after interrogation, if ever. Defense lawyers are powerless to do much except argue for a lesser sentence. Conviction rates consistently remain around 99 percent.
Criminal defense lawyers have little to no impact in China. They have their licenses subjected to annual renewal from authorities that often can arbitrarily fail to renew them. They also have to depend on the goodwill of police and prosecutors to take even basic steps to defend their clients.
Lawyers are allowed to attempt to provide basic legal services to their clients, but can face prosecution themselves if they “stir up public disorder” or reveal information deemed sensitive or secret.
There are also few protections against arbitrary arrests and imprisonment. The Communist Party sometimes sets quotas for the number of suspects arrested for different crimes. Not surprisingly, the police routinely use torture to extract confessions although, under Chinese law, confessions obtained through torture are supposedly inadmissible in court. What a redeeming quality.
Another wonderful aspect to communist law is that there are no juries. Trials are presided over by three judges in Communist uniforms. In almost all cases in China, defendants are quickly convicted and sentenced. If needed, cattle prods are used on defendants while they attempt to mount a defense.
The “trials” are conducted in an inquisitorial manner, in which the judges play an active part in the questioning of all witnesses. (This contrasts with the Western adversarial system, in which the judge is meant to be an impartial referee between two contending attorneys.) After the judges rule on a case, they pass sentence. Swiftly. Executions can take place within hours of a conviction.
It is also important to note that the People’s Republic of China derived much of its legal system from the Soviet Union. Karl Marx’s memory and the influence of the most evil book ever written, “The Communist Manifesto,” still survives today.
There is no doubt that the introduction of the idea of communism and its ideological branches was born of an ancient evil that is more prevalent in the world today than you may even realize.
I am grateful this holiday that I live in the United States of America.
Swindle is a local attorney at law.