China has further enhanced its legal aid services for victims of abuse and abandonment while improving the mechanisms to ensure residents in remote areas receive timely help, officials said.
As a system, legal aid provides free legal advice, representation and criminal defense services to economically disadvantaged citizens and other eligible parties.
According to the Ministry of Justice, legal aid agencies across the country have established over 2,700 workstations in collaboration with the All-China Women's Federation to offer convenient legal aid for women who have suffered domestic violence.
Song Lan, deputy director of the Beijing Legal Aid Center, said that for key vulnerable groups, the center has implemented multiple measures to expedite the approval process and avoid extensive examination of their economic difficulties. This approach ensures that victims can access professional legal services promptly.
"In line with principles of privacy protection and respecting the wishes of the recipients of legal aid, we consider the gender of the lawyers as well as other factors related to the cases in order to appoint lawyers who can provide precise services to the recipients," she said.
Additionally, the center strengthens supervision through follow-up visits, which further safeguards the legal service needs of the recipients after the completion of their cases, she said.
The Law on Legal Aid, which took effect in January 2022, expanded the scope of legal aid, enriched forms of services and specifically regulated the procedures and implementation of legal aid. In 2022, legal aid organizations nationwide handled more than 1.37 million cases and provided consultations over 19.8 million times.
To meet the new needs of legal aid, the ministry released the revised version of Procedures for Handling Legal Aid Cases. The regulation, which will take effect on Sept 1, further optimizes procedures for applying for legal aid and streamlines the review process.
In areas with a shortage of lawyers, the ministry has guided local authorities to coordinate the allocation of legal professionals at provincial and municipal levels to ensure the effective implementation of legal aid work, said Sun Chunying, an inspector at the ministry's Bureau of Public Legal Services Administration.
Legal scholars, legal researchers and law students are encouraged to volunteer in providing legal advice, drafting legal documents and offering other legal aid to recipients, she said.
According to the ministry, over 70,000 legal aid stations at the township level and over 260,000 legal aid centers at the village level have also been established, enabling disadvantaged individuals to access such services easily.
"In remote areas where elderly people and disabled individuals may face difficulties in transportation, many legal aid institutions proactively provide door-to-door services for them," Sun said.
The ministry has also adopted information technology to provide services, by integrating the functions of the existing legal service network with judicial administration-related apps and WeChat miniprograms to help the residents in rural areas access legal aid.