The Ministry of Justice has issued a regulation to protect lawyers' rights to arrange meetings with clients who are serving prison sentences, the authorities said on Monday.
The regulation states that if convicts are charged with previously undisclosed crimes or offenses committed in prison, lawyers can apply to meet with them. The meetings should not be monitored by prison authorities during the period of investigation, prosecution and trial, and police officers will not be allowed to attend.
A statement released by the ministry said, "The provisions are fully in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Law and the Law of the People's Republic of China on Lawyers."
According to the ministry, the regulation expands the scope of the services lawyers can offer to people serving prison sentences and also provides more convenient measures to allow them to meet with clients.
"Under the new regulation, prisons must provide timely responses to lawyers' applications to meet with clients. They must also arrange proper facilities for the meeting and allow lawyers to scrutinize case files and collect evidence," the regulation said.
Prisons must also guarantee sufficient time for such meetings, and are required to protect the professional rights of lawyers.
"If lawyers' rights are infringed by prison officers, they can file petitions or complaints about unfair treatment to prison authorities, a higher-level prosecuting department or the justice department," stated the regulation, which updates a temporary measure introduced in 2004.
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