søndag 17. april 2022

China’s Judicial Transparency Project Faces an Uncertain Future

Over the past two decades, China has made improving judicial transparency a key plank of its reform platform. Many court hearings are videotaped or livestreamed, and judges are increasingly expected to explain their reasoning during sentencing. But arguably no transparency measure has been more impactful than the decision to make millions of court decisions freely accessible online.

In 2013, China’s Supreme People’s Court officially launched China Judgements Online, a free online database containing decisions from all levels of China’s legal system, from local courts all the way up to the SPC itself. By 2020, the database was home to more than 100 million documents. CJO has not only made it easier for legal practitioners to carry out research on past cases and legal trends; it has also provided the public with a rare glimpse into China’s judicial process.

But now, that may be coming to an end. Zhou Yuzhong, a lawyer, found that courts uploaded slightly more than 100,000 judicial documents in 2021, a nearly 80% drop from the previous year. Meanwhile, a number of rulings have quietly disappeared from the database.