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Witness safety proposal

A CHINESE lawmaker has proposed to make "as early as possible" a law to protect witnesses and informants to encourage more people to appear before court without worrying about retaliation.

Xu Zhihui, director of the Beijing Dingye Law Office, said at the annual legislative session that currently very few witnesses appear before court in China because they are worried about possible reprisals, despite the fact that providing testimony is obligatory in Chinese law.

"Witnesses and informants are vital in tracking down criminals and in trials, and they can greatly help judges find out the truth in civil cases," said Xu, a deputy to the National People's Congress.

However, Xu said only about 10 percent of witnesses attend court in civil cases and just 1 to 2 percent are present in criminal trials.

Xu said the lack of a protection system "greatly dampens witnesses' enthusiasm" and thus "brings negative impact on China's legal development."

Legislation has been added to the country's trial procedures that requires the appearance of witnesses, making legislation on witness protection more necessary, Xu said.

"The current measures are far from enough to meet the current demands of witness protection," Xu said.


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