The Supreme People’s Court (the Court) devoted its 27 February 2014 press conference to domestic violence, highlighting:
- the seriousness of the problem;
- 10 model cases;
- a forthcoming judicial interpretation on domestic violence.
Judge Xue Shulan, Deputy Head of the #1 Criminal Division, appeared at the press conference. The Court websites have published a number of domestic violence related articles in the past 3 weeks. Some of these articles have been reprinted on the website of the Central Communist Party Political Legal Committee, indicating that the Court initiative has political backing.
This blogpost will briefly explain:
- the significance of the 10 model cases
- some issues that should be incorporated into the judicial interpretation;
Some statistics about domestic violence in China
At the press conference, Sun Jungong, spokesman for the Supreme People’s Court, released some statistics about domestic violence. He said that domestic violence occurs in approximately 24.7 percent of Chinese families, and almost 10 percent of intentional homicide cases are connected with domestic violence.
The significance of the 10 model cases
Civil protection orders
One model case involved a civil protection ordered issued to protect an elderly man against his abusive child while another case involved a civil protection ordered against the uncle of the minor.
- the elderly; and
The Court is providing guidance for judges about what can be considered evidence of domestic violence. Examples of evidence of domestic violence in these cases include the statement of the victim, in writing, medical records, and the diary of a child and/or victim.In the past judges often did not consider the statement of the victim as evidence. Reaffirming the evidentiary value of medical records and contemporaneous notes is also important.
Types of domestic violence
Consequences of domestic violence
Issues for the judicial interpretation
- defining domestic violence;
- determining whether acts constitute domestic violence;
- classification of different types of domestic violence;
- more specific guidelines on criminal punishment for domestic violence;
- evidence in domestic violence cases;
- guidelines for imposing punishment on victims of domestic violence who commit crimes against their abusers.
After the domestic violence judicial interpretation is issued, widespread judicial training will be needed to ensure that judges can recognize domestic violence and issue civil protection orders to protect women, children, and the elderly. Many press reports (as well as studies by the Institute of Applied Jurisprudence) indicate that part of the problem can be traced to local courts, police and other authorities, who do not take domestic violence seriously.
This training is especially needed in rural courts, where many abuse cases occur, but also in the military courts. Article 33 of the Marriage Law provides that the spouse of a soldier in active service who wants a divorce needs to obtain the soldier’s consent, unless the soldier has made “grave errors” （重大过错, which according to a 2001 interpretation of the Marriage Law, includes domestic violence. This article by a judge from a court outside of Kunming describes some of the issues.
At the latest NPC session, delegates again brought up the delay in progress on domestic violence legislation (described here). Domestic violence is an area that the scholars, NGOs, and the domestic (and international) public has been putting pressure on the courts to address for some years, and it will be significant progress if the domestic violence interpretation is issued this year.
(The case analysis was provided by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous)
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