Opinions on Improving the Legal Aid System

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Source:http://news.xinhuanet.com/2015-06/29/c_1115759994.htm

The legal aid system is an important legal system established by the state to ensure that economically disadvantaged citizens and parties in special cases receive the legal consultations, legal representation, criminal defense, and other legal services that they need free of charge, in order to protect parties' lawful rights and interests, the proper implementation of the law, and social justice. Legal aid work is an important undertaking for the people's livelihood. In recent years, across the country, through conscientious implementation of the "Regulations on Legal Aid," the scope of legal aid has gradually expanded, quality of service has continuously improved, construction of the system has been earnestly promoted, security capacity has been progressively strengthened, and promotion of social justice for the protection and perfection of the people's livelihood has been vigorously demonstrated. However, compared to the daily increase in the legal aid needs of the masses, particularly within disadvantaged groups, legal aid work still faces problems such as the persistence of imperfections within the system, inadequate safeguard mechanisms, and the exigent expansion of the scope of legal aid. In order to conscientiously implement the Central Government's important strategic call to comprehensively promote governance through law, further strengthen legal aid work, perfect the Chinese socialist legal aid system, the following opinions are hereby proposed.

I. General Requirements

(1) Guiding Thought Under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping thought, the important ideology of the "Three Represents," and the scientific outlook on development, earnestly apply the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China from the Third and Fourth Plenums, ardently learn from the spirit of the important speeches of Secretary Xi Jinping, act in accordance with the strategic decisions of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, construct robust system mechanisms, support and perfect the development of a Chinese socialist legal aid system that is headed by the Party Committee government, operated under the responsibility of the judicial administrative authorities, involves the coordination and cooperation of relevant organs, and incorporates the force of widespread social involvement, which tightly centers on economic social development and the actual needs of the masses, carries out government responsibilities, continuously expands the scope of legal aid, raises the quality of legal aid, and ensures that when members of the masses encounter a legal problem or have their rights infringed they are able to receive timely and effective legal help.

(2) Basic principles

-- Persist in being people-oriented. Take the lawful rights and interests of the people as the starting and ending points, vigorously respond to the demands of the people's livelihood, perfect measures to ensure the benefits and interests of the people, promote the construction of the public legal system, strengthen legal services within the sector of the people's livelihood, earnestly provide timely and high-quality, effective legal services to disadvantaged groups, ensure the conflicts and disputes of disadvantaged groups are resolved within legal channels, effectively resolve social conflicts, and preserve social harmony and stability.

—Promote fairness and justice. Ensure impartial justice is the foremost value pursued in legal aid work, fulfill legal aid obligations in accordance with the law, expand the scope of legal aid, ensure citizens that qualify for legal aid in accordance with the regulations are all able to access legal aid, equally share the protections of law, and earnestly strive to ensure that impartial justice is felt by the individuals involved in every case.

—Promote innovative reforms. On the basis of the fundamental national situation, actively explore the development rules for legal aid work; innovate working theories, mechanisms, and methods for legal aid work; implement directives to streamline legal aid applications, simplify investigation procedures, provide intensive services, and strive to continuously raise the level of standardization, institutionalization, and legalization of legal aid work.

II. Expand the scope of legal aid

(3)Expand the scope of legal aid services in relation to civil and administrative laws. To help economically disadvantaged citizens to cope with legal matters fundamental to their basic living conditions, on top of the scope of legal aid stipulated under Legal Aid Regulation (《法律援助条例》) which includes legal aid services related to matters such as requests for national compensation, participation in social insurance, minimum living allowances, pension for the disabled or for the family of the deceased, alimony payment, child support payment, maintenance allowances and labour remuneration, each province (including autonomous regions and municipalities under direct control of the central government) should gradually expand the scope of legal aid by providing a wider range of legal aid services in matters closely related to the well-being of citizens such as labour security, marriage and family, food and medicine, education and medical treatment. 。Expand the scope of legal aid, starting with pilot experiment, to include services in relation to application for retrial of civil and administrative cases the judicial decisions of which have been legally effected but are objected to by related parties who cannot afford to engage a lawyer. 综合法律援助资源状况、公民法律援助需求等因素,进一步放宽经济困难标准,降低法律援助门槛,使法律援助覆盖人群逐步拓展至低收入群体,惠及更多困难群众。 认真组织办理困难群众就业、就学、就医、社会保障等领域涉及法律援助的案件,积极提供诉讼和非诉讼代理服务,重点做好农民工、下岗失业人员、妇女、未成年人、老年人、残疾人和军人军属等群体法律援助工作,切实维护其合法权益。

(4)Strengthen criminal legal aid work. Emphasize the demonstration of the role of legal aid as a safeguard to protecting human rights and access to justice, and protect the lawful rights and interests of clients. 落实刑事诉讼法及相关配套法规制度关于法律援助范围的规定,畅通刑事法律援助申请渠道,加强司法行政机关与法院、检察院、公安机关等办案机关的工作衔接,完善被羁押犯罪嫌疑人、被告人经济困难证明制度,建立健全办案机关通知辩护工作机制,确保告知、转交申请、通知辩护(代理)等工作协调顺畅,切实履行侦查、审查起诉和审判阶段法律援助工作职责。 开展试点,逐步开展为不服司法机关生效刑事裁判、决定的经济困难申诉人提供法律援助的工作。 建立法律援助值班律师制度,法律援助机构在法院、看守所派驻法律援助值班律师。 健全法律援助参与刑事案件速裁程序试点工作机制。 建立法律援助参与刑事和解、死刑复核案件办理工作机制,依法为更多的刑事诉讼当事人提供法律援助。

(5) Implement full-coverage legal aid consultation service. Build robust channels for legal aid service that provide convenient service to the people, and arrange for expert personnel to provide free legal consultations to the members of the public that come for aid. When consultation matters fall within the appropriate scope of legal aid, clients ought to be referred to legal aid application procedures, and complex consultation issues should be thoroughly explained and answered. 拓展基层服务网络,推进法律援助工作站点向城乡社区延伸,方便群众及时就近获得法律咨询。 加强“12348”法律服务热线建设,有条件的地方开设针对农民工、妇女、未成年人、老年人等群体的维权专线,充分发挥解答法律咨询、宣传法律知识、指导群众依法维权的作用。 创新咨询服务方式,运用网络平台和新兴传播工具,提高法律援助咨询服务的可及性。 广泛开展公共法律教育,积极提供法律信息和帮助,引导群众依法表达合理诉求。

III. Improve the quality of legal aid

(6) Promote the establishment of legal aid standardization. Establish robust legal aid organizations to implement standardized work at every stage. 完善申请和受理审查工作制度,推进援务公开,规范法律援助机构审查职责范围和工作程序。 改进案件指派工作制度,综合案件类型、法律援助人员专业特长、受援人意愿等因素,合理指派承办机构和人员。 严格办理死刑、未成年人等案件承办人员资质条件,确保案件办理质量。 探索办理跨行政区划法院、检察院受理、审理案件的指派机制。 完善法律援助承办环节工作制度,规范法律咨询、非诉讼事项、诉讼事项办理流程,制定刑事、民事、行政法律援助案件质量标准。

(7) Strengthen legal aid quality management. 认真履行法律援助组织实施职责,规范接待、受理、审查、指派等行为,严格执行法律援助事项范围和经济困难标准,使符合条件的公民都能及时获得法律援助。 教育引导法律援助人员严格遵守法定程序和执业规范,提供符合标准的法律援助服务。 根据案件不同类别组建法律援助专业服务团队,探索创新法律援助案件指派方式,对重大疑难案件实行集体讨论、全程跟踪、重点督办,提高案件办理专业化水平。 完善服务质量监管机制,综合运用质量评估、庭审旁听、案卷检查、征询司法机关意见和受援人回访等措施强化案件质量管理。 加大信息技术在法律援助流程管理、质量评估、业绩考核等方面的应用。 逐步推行办案质量与办案补贴挂钩的差别案件补贴制度,根据案件办理质量确定不同级别发放标准,促进提高办案质量。 完善法律援助投诉处理制度,进一步规范投诉事项范围、程序和处理反馈工作,提高投诉处理工作水平。

(8) Perfect legal aid service mechanisms to better provide for the convenience of the people. 建立健全便民利民措施,加强长效机制建设,简化程序、手续,丰富服务内容。 加强便民窗口规范化服务,优化服务环境、改进服务态度,推行服务承诺制、首问负责制、限时办结制、援务公开制,规范履行服务指引、法律咨询、申请受理、查询答疑等职责。 拓宽申请渠道,发挥法律援助工作站、联络点贴近基层的优势,方便困难群众及时就近提出申请,在偏远地区和困难群众集中的地区设立流动工作站巡回受案。 对有特殊困难的受援对象推行电话申请、上门受理等服务方式,逐步实行网上受理申请。 简化审查程序,对城乡低保对象、特困供养人员等正在接受社会救助的对象和无固定生活来源的残疾人、老年人等特定群体,以及申请支付劳动报酬、工伤赔偿的农民工,免除经济困难审查;逐步建立法律援助对象动态数据库,提高审查效率;对情况紧急的案件可以先行受理,事后补办材料、手续;开辟法律援助“快速通道”,有条件的地方对未成年人、老年人、残疾人符合条件的申请实行当日受理、审查,并快速办理。 加强军地法律援助服务网络建设,健全军人军属法律援助工作机制。 建立完善法律援助异地协作机制,加强法律援助机构在转交申请、核实情况、调查取证、送达法律文书等环节的协助配合,方便受援人异地维护自身合法权益。 延伸服务领域,注重对受援人进行人文关怀和心理疏导,完善法律援助与司法救助、社会救助工作衔接机制,提升服务效果。

IV. Improving the safeguarding effect of legal aid

(9) Perfect payment guarantee systems. 按照明确责任、分类负担、收支脱钩、全额保障的原则,完善法律援助经费保障体制,明确经费使用范围和保障标准,确保经费保障水平适应办案工作需要。 中央财政要引导地方特别是中西部地区加大对法律援助经费的投入力度。 省级财政要为法律援助提供经费支持,加大对经济欠发达地区的转移支付力度,提高经济欠发达地区的财政保障能力。 市、县级财政要将法律援助经费全部纳入同级财政预算,根据地方财力和办案量合理安排经费。 适当提高办案补贴标准并及时足额支付。 建立动态调整机制,根据律师承办案件成本、基本劳务费用等因素及时调整补贴标准。 鼓励社会对法律援助活动提供捐助,充分发挥法律援助基金会的资金募集作用。 财政、审计等部门要加强对法律援助经费的绩效考核和监督,确保专款专用,提高经费使用效益。

(10) Strengthen infrastructure construction. 加大法律援助基础设施建设投入力度,建设与服务困难群众工作需要相适应的服务设施,提高办公办案设施配备水平。 鼓励支持地方加强临街一层便民服务窗口建设,合理划分功能区域,完善无障碍配套服务设施,满足接待群众需要。 各地要支持法律援助工作站(点)建设,配备必要的工作和服务设施,方便困难群众就近获得法律援助。 加强信息化建设,加大投入力度,改善基层信息基础设施,提升法律援助信息管理水平,实现集援务公开、咨询服务、网上审查、监督管理于一体的网上管理服务,实现与相关单位的信息共享和工作协同。

(11) Strengthen organizational team building. Rely on currently available resources to strengthen the establishment of legal aid organizations, and allocate staff appropriately. Exhibit political ideology in a prominent place, and earnestly strive to raise the quality of political ideology and level of professional ethics within the ranks of legal aid workers. Explore models to develop the specialization and professionalization of legal aid workers, strengthen the retention of talented human resources, and cultivate ranks of professional employees who are expert in handling legal aid cases. Strengthen education training work, increase funding to be spent on educational materials, qualified teachers, and related expenditures, perfect training systems and work mechanisms, and increase legal aid workers' professional quality and service capabilities. 完善律师、基层法律服务工作者参与法律援助工作相关权益保障、政策扶持措施,调动律师、基层法律服务工作者等人员的积极性。 加大政府购买法律援助服务力度,吸纳社会工作者参与法律援助,鼓励和支持人民团体、社会组织开展法律援助工作。 多渠道解决律师资源短缺地区法律援助工作力量不足问题,充实县区法律援助机构办案人员,在农村注重发挥基层法律服务工作者的作用,加大力度调配优秀律师、大学生志愿者等服务力量支持律师资源短缺地区法律援助工作。 Strive to thoroughly develop legal aid volunteer service actions.

V. Truly Strengthen Organizational Leadership

(12) Strengthening organizational leadership. 地方各级党委和政府要高度重视法律援助工作,将其纳入党的群众工作范围,纳入地方经济和社会发展总体规划、基本公共服务体系、为民办实事和民生工程,帮助解决工作中遇到的困难和问题。 建立法律援助补充事项范围和经济困难标准动态调整机制,各省(自治区、直辖市)要根据本行政区域经济发展状况和法律援助工作需要,及时审查、调整补充事项范围和经济困难标准,促进法律援助事业与经济社会协调发展。 建立法律援助责任履行情况考评机制、报告制度和督导检查制度,确保落实到位。 发挥政府主导作用,鼓励和支持社会力量通过多种方式依法有序参与法律援助工作。 推进法律援助立法工作,提高法治化水平。

(13) Strengthen supervision management and implementation. 各级司法行政机关是法律援助工作的监督管理部门,要健全管理体制,加强对法律援助机构执行法律法规和政策情况的监督,完善责任追究制度,确保法律援助机构和人员依法履行职责。 加强《法律援助条例》配套规章制度建设,构建层次清晰、体系完备的制度体系。 法律援助机构要切实履行组织实施职责,认真做好受理、审查、指派、支付办案补贴等工作,组织引导律师、基层法律服务工作者积极履行法律援助义务,律师每年应承办一定数量法律援助案件,建立健全律师事务所等法律服务机构和人员开展法律援助的考核评价机制。 完善公证处、司法鉴定机构依法减免相关费用制度,并加强工作衔接。 加强对人民团体、社会组织和志愿者从事法律援助服务的指导和规范,维护法律援助秩序。 积极利用传统媒体和新兴媒体,扩大法律援助宣传的覆盖面,增强宣传效果。

(14) Strengthen interdepartmental coordination and cooperation. All relevant departments and units should research practical methods for implementation in accordance with this opinion. 法院、检察院、公安机关要为法律援助办案工作提供必要支持,进一步完善民事诉讼和行政诉讼法律援助与诉讼费用减免缓制度的衔接机制,健全国家赔偿法律援助工作机制,完善刑事诉讼法律援助中法院、检察院、公安机关、司法行政机关的配合工作机制。 发展改革、民政、财政、人力资源社会保障、国土资源、住房城乡建设、卫生计生、工商、档案等部门要按照职能分工,支持法律援助基层基础设施建设,落实经费保障,提供办案便利。 各人民团体要充分利用自身优势参与做好法律援助工作。 各有关部门和单位要形成工作合力,推动完善法律援助制度,更好地保障和改善民生。

 

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