China opened its first circuit court Wednesday, designed to reduce local officials’ interference in the judiciary of locally run courts.wpid-law.jpg

The new court in the southern city of Shenzhen will mainly hear commercial and other civil cases, overseen by China’s Supreme People’s Court, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Under the current system, provincial governments appoint judges and prosecutors as well as police, leaving the judiciary vulnerable to political interference, according to Xinhua.

The pilot program to have courts in different regions under the direct control of the Supreme People’s Court was part of proposed legal reforms announced at a Chinese Communist Party plenum in October.

Circuit courts would “help eliminate interference in judicial and procuratorial work to ensure that the courts and prosecutors are independent and impartial,” the official Xinhua news agency said last year.

Currently many judges in China are local party officials with no legal training, the South China Morning Post reported.

Judges selected for circuit court duty will come from the legal profession and will be supervised by the Supreme People’s Court, according to state media.

Another circuit court will open in Shenyang City in the north-eastern province of Liaoning this year, Xinhua reported.

Shortly after taking office two years ago, President Xi Jinping launched a wide-scale anti-corruption campaign, vowing to target both petty corrupt “flies” and high officials, or “tigers.”


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