China bans use of evidence obtained through torture

[JURIST] China’s Supreme People’s Court announced Sunday that evidence obtained through violence or intimidation will be barred from use in criminal trials and death penalty cases. The new regulations require prosecutors to provide the court with records from interrogations and allow defendants convicted in death penalty cases to request an inquiry into the validity of their interrogations. Evidence from unnamed sources is also barred from being used in death penalty cases.

The announcement comes weeks after Zhao Zuohai, a man convicted of murder, was released from prison following the realization that his alleged victim was still alive. Zhao stated he confessed only after being beaten by police.

Legal experts in China indicated that the new regulations mark the first time government has acknowledged that evidence obtained through coercion will be useless in court. Advocacy groups have praised the new law  but indicate it is only a small step and that larger steps need to be taken by the government in order to ensure true reform.

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