China: Prominent Chinese lawyer speaks out against televised confessions

March 2, 2016

Red flags fly in front of the Chinese national flag, second left, outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)

One of China’s top legal voices has spoken out against televised confessions, an increasingly common tool used by Chinese authorities to humiliate human rights advocates, lawyers, book publishers and journalists.

China should not drag people in front of the cameras to plead guilty, Zhu Zhengfu, deputy chairman of the All China Lawyers Association, said this week in a rare internal reproach to the broad clampdown that has enveloped the country under President Xi Jinping.

Such confessions, he said, are of little legal value and may rely on coercion.

“Legally speaking, if there is no evidence to support the case, a guilty plea on television should be inadmissible,” he said in an interview with Beijing News that was widely disseminated in China on Wednesday. “Because there are too many possibilities for a suspect to be led into pleading guilty against their will and contrary to the facts.”

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