Xiong Xuanguo, Vice Minister of Justice, called for furthering lawyers' role in the system of granting leniency for defendants who plead guilty at a recent symposium.
Xiong pointed out that the system is a major outcome of China's criminal procedure reform in recent years. As important participants in the system, lawyers shoulder such solemn duties as protecting the legitimate rights and interests of the parties concerned, ensuring the correct implementation of the law, and maintaining social equality and justice, he said.
Xiong noted that Chinese lawyers have, as duty lawyers, been conscientiously handling cases involving suspects or defendants pleading guilty since the launch of the system. According to Xiong, in 2019 alone, duty lawyers around the country forwarded 56,000 legal aid applications, provided legal assistant in 400,000 cases, and handled nearly 340,000 such cases, all positive contributions.
Xiong highlighted the multiple roles of lawyers in such cases including not only the defense lawyers but also the persons who counsel suspects and defendants, their agents in negotiations with procurators and collaborators of judicial organs.
The system couldn't be effectively implemented without lawyers' active participation and performance of their duties under the law, he said.
Xiong said that the Ministry of Justice will take effective measures to improve the duty lawyer system, continue the pilot program of extending lawyers' involvement in the whole process of criminal cases, and improve supporting mechanisms for their participation.