A new directive to protect the personal safety of judges, prosecutors and their families may offer some reassurance to staff but ultimately tensions in the system will only be eased through
State media reported late on Monday that the Communist Party’s Central Politics and Law Commission said it had drafted a directive to protect judicial staff against intimidation and retaliation on the job.
The directive would soon be released, the reports said.
Under the regulation, police would be allowed to provide security to judicial staff and their families if they were under threat.
The security would help judges and prosecutors to better carry out their duties, the commission said.
The move comes after Ma Caiyun, 38, a judge in Beijing’s Changping District People’s Court, was gunned down on Friday by two men angered by Ma’s decision in divorce cases.
Meng Jianzhu, the party’s domestic security chief, responded to the killing by ordering measures put in place to protect judges and their family members.
Meng said he was “deeply saddened” by Ma’s death and demanded a crackdown on attacks against judges and their family members.
“Effective measures must be taken to safeguard the personal safety of judges and their families, their legal rights and the dignity of the law,” Meng was quoted by Thepaper.cn as saying.
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Ma was a civil court judge in the Huilongguan tribunal, with numerous awards and a record of handling 400 cases a year.
The attack on him is the latest of a series of assaults, in some cases fatal, against the profession.
Retaliation against judicial staff, including police officers, judges and prosecutors, has been on the rise in recent years.
In February last year, a judge presiding over a divorce case in Xinxiang, Henan province, was assaulted at the court’s entrance and critically wounded.
In November 2014 a judge in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, was assaulted by a woman who lost the right to adopt her six-year-old niece.
The worst assault was in Yongzhou in Hunan province in 2010 when three judges were killed and three others seriously wounded by a man armed with a machine gun. The killer had been angered by a verdict in a housing dispute.
Wu Youshui, a lawyer with the Zhejiang Bijian Law Firm, said it was not unusual for judges to be insulted and threatened, even in the courtroom, but a protection order was not the solution.
Wu, who specialises in financial disputes, said the problem was that in some cases judges could not make independent decisions and could appear to favour one party over the other.
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“When the public lose confidence in the independence of the legal system and think the judge is biased, they are likely to hold a grudge against the judge if the verdict is not in his or her favour,” Wu said.
“The ultimate solution is to ease social discontent as a whole and rebuild the public’s confidence in the ... system.”
The draft directive detailed punishment for retaliation. When it comes into effect, slander, insults, threats to assault, retaliate or frame judicial staff will punished on the spot.
Staff involved in high-risk cases such as those involving terrorism or organised crime would be shielded by anonymity or courtroom security if needed.
The personal safety, assets and health of judges and prosecutors would also be protected depending on the risks they took in their professional duties.