Judges from China’s Supreme People’s Court Study Restitution and Victim Compensation

December 2008

Despite the impressive strides that China has made in formulating criminal laws and developing an effective criminal justice system during the past three decades, crime victims are often not sufficiently compensated for the loss or damage of properties. The Chinese government is currently exploring establishing designated funds to compensate victims. With the assistance of the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), a delegation of senior judges from the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) of China visited the United States for two weeks in December to study U.S. models of compensation for and restitution to crime victims.

While visiting the States, the eight-member SPC delegation participated in a series of meetings and roundtables held in Washington, D.C.; New York City, New York; Denver, Colorado and in San Francisco and Sacramento, both in the state of California. The Chinese delegation also met with Chief Judge Robert M. Bell and three other judges of the Maryland Court of Appeals, and with Justice Nathan B. Coats of the Colorado State Supreme Court. During the Colorado leg of the study tour, the group was welcomed by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. These meetings allowed the group to review and assess various models of state compensation programs.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime organized a workshop, during which Director John W. Gillis discussed the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, also known as “VOCA,” and its associated funds with the delegation. At other meetings, the delegation was exposed to related issues such as eligibility requirements, the review and decision processes, compensation benefits and compensation fund management.

To share the Chinese delegation’s perspective, ABA ROLI organized a luncheon roundtable where the delegation leader, Judge Shen Liang, spoke about the protection of defendants’ rights and of victims in criminal proceedings in China.

“There have been many exchange programs between the Chinese and U.S. judiciaries. Chinese judges have a strong understanding of the U.S. system in general, but need to learn more about specific aspects of the U.S. system,” said Judge Shen during his remarks following a workshop at the District of Colombia Superior Court. Judge Shen expressly thanked ABAROLI for their support and indicated that the Chinese delegation was gaining just the type of information they sought about compensation and restitution programs.

For more information about our work in China, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <rol@staff.abanet.org>.

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