Comparative Criminal Trial Systems of China, U.S., and Hong Kong
Criminal Justice Systems around the world are full of flaws that have ironically led to injustice for many individuals who have gone through the systems. The police, courts, and prosecutors have been accused of being too harsh, while others accuse them of being too lax in enforcing laws (Daly 4). The criminal trial systems, for instance in some countries, are full of so many deficiencies that require legal reforms. As such, this proposal will seek to explore the differences in the Criminal Trial Systems of China, U.S, and Hong Kong.
For a long time, China’s criminal justice system has featured many deficiencies. In 1996, with assistance from the United States, China drastically made changes to its Criminal Justice System by introducing key rights as safeguards in criminal trials. However, Whitfort (141) notes that compliance with the 1996 legal reforms is still far from being realized. To support this claim, Belkin (61) argues that the criminal trial system, in the eyes of the Western nations still contains undesirable features that are against the rights to a fair trial. Belkin notes that the country’s rate of confession is extremely high, criminal suspects do not enjoy the right to presumption of innocence and they do not have the right to push for the presence of witnesses who may testify in their defense. Worse still, is the limited ability granted to defense to conduct investigation that may support their claims (Belkin 61).
In contrast to the deficiencies present in China’s Criminal Trial System, the U.S and Hong Kong have managed to uphold the laws pertaining to free and fair trials. In the U.S., for instance, the Sixth Amendment accords every individual accused of a criminal offence the right to enjoy a speedy trial (Samaha 433). This is meant to reduce prolonged detention and anxiety among the accused, and to prevent chances of the defense team loosing critical witnesses that may assist them provide evidence. Moreover, the speedy trial enables the criminal trial system to obtain the right and correct results. Notably, the U.S through the Sixth Amendment has also managed to uphold the right for an accused to enjoy a public trial, preceded by a judge and a jury.
It is equally interesting to note that the U.S. criminal trial process is the right granted to the defense team to provide all manner of evidence to the court, in an attempt to prevent an accused from serving a jail term. This has however not been the case in China. Criminal defense lawyers have even been detained due to the mere reason of pointing out a procedure that was not followed in the course of trial (Congressional- Executive Commission on China 3). Hong Kong’s in its attempt to create a justice system adopted most of criminal procedures as those of the U.K (Wai-kin 30). Therefore, the country’s criminal trial system has fewer discrepancies due to well laid out procedures that are strictly adhered to. Chui and Lo (154) also state that Hong Kong’s criminal trial court his governed by procedures that are almost similar to those in the Crown Court in England. In all criminal trials, the defense team is allowed to present their alibis with prior information having been provided to the persecution. Moreover, the country’s criminal trial system allows for eligibility to jury service to particular individuals.
This however does not imply that the criminal systems in both Hong Kong and the US are flawless. They both contain some discrepancies that deny justice to some accused individuals. For instance, disparities in trials have been reported in the US such as implicit racial discrimination that has for a long time remained unchecked and unmonitored (the Sentencing Project 7). Such system deficiencies have rendered most criminal trial systems ineffective in providing justice among citizens. In this case, China is among the countries with a criminal trial system covered with flaws. With this understanding, the proposal aims at exploring Hong Kong’s and USA criminal trial systems, in order to identify areas in which China may borrow ideas, for it to reform its own trial procedures. This will be achieved through extensive research on the three nations’ trial systems in order to gather information on trial procedures. Evidences through case studies, will also be provided to prove the true situation on ground, in the three countries. This is with the sole aim of improving trial systems, since deficiencies in this system denies justice to many innocent citizens.
Aims and Objectives
This research proposal seeks to answer the question: What can China learn from Hong Kong and USA trial system in reforming its own?
To answer the above question, focus shall be on the following specific questions:
- What are the criminal trial procedures in Hong Kong, the US and China?
- What are the distinct comparative features in the systems in Hong Kong, the US and China?
- What can China learn from Hong Kong and the US in order to make legal reforms in its criminal trial system?
Comparative law, as noted by Hoecke and Ost (182) involves comparing two or more phenomenon in order to establish the best solution to a problem. Comparative law comprises of analogical and genealogical methodologies Hoecke and Ost (183). Analogical comparison involves phenomena with differing ancestry connection while genealogical comparison involves phenomena with common ancestries. Since this research involves three countries with a connection, the researcher will compare the aspects and relations that have led to the criminal trial systems in place today in three nations.
The research will adopt a pure and applied legal research meant to gather knowledge on operation of laws and procedures in Hong Kong, China and the U.S. The author will therefore easily identify valid procedures in the criminal trial systems and determine the best legal way of upholding justice in China. This will be actualized through gathering information from secondary and primary sources. In the case of secondary sources, the author will source for information from legal journals, encyclopedias, treatises and other law review articles.
Secondary sources enable researchers to familiarize themselves with the research and to obtain relevant background information on the topic of study. Primary sources of law are the sources that establish laws (Miller and Jentz 4). They include the constitution, statutes, regulations, and case laws. Therefore, the author will gather relevant information from primary sources in all the three countries in order to establish the distinct features in the criminal trial system. Moreover, the author will view case laws to provide evidence to support the condition of the criminal trial systems in Hong Kong, China and the US. Case law will also enable the author to employ deductive reasoning effectively.
Belkin, Ira. China’s Criminal justice System: A Work in Progress. Washington Journal of Modern China, 6.2(2000):
Chui, Eric Wing Hong and Lo, Wing. Understanding Criminal Justice in Hong Kong. Devon: Rotledge, 2013. Print.
Congressional- Executive Commission on China. China’s Criminal Justice System. Washington DC. 2002. Print.
Daly, Kathleen. Aims of the Criminal Justice System. Queensland, Griffith University, 2011. Print.
Hoecke, Mark Van and Ost, Francois. Methodologies of Legal research. European Academy of Legal Theory Series, 9. 2011. Print.
Ho, Wai-Kin. Criminal Law in Hong Kong. Alphen aan den Rijn: Kluwer Law International, 2011. Print.
Miller, Roger LeRoy, and Gaylord A. Jentz. Fundamentals of Business Law: Excerpted Cases. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Samaha, Joel. Criminal Procedure. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2012. Print.
The Sentencing Project. Report of the Sentencing Project to the United Nations Human Rights Committee Regarding Racial Discrepancies in the United States Criminal Justice System. Washington DC. 2013. Print.
Whitfort, Amanda. The Right to a Fair Trial in China: The Criminal Procedure Law of 1996. The University of Hong Kong, 2005. Print.