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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 19. 2nd August 1973



Once an offence is before the court, the Magistrate and his assistants go out to the accused's place of work, in the factories or the fields. The production team with whom the accused works are advised of the matter and suggest ways of dealing with the problem, and give their opinions of the person's attitude to work and to his comrades in his day to day life. The Magistrate (a part-time official who spends the rest of his time engaged in production like everyone else,) takes down in writing these comments and will assess the person on the basis of these comments in relation to the standing laws. This is how all decisions are arrived at. In order to allow the legal affairs to be run by the people, it was necessary to provide the social facilities for this participation, and this is how the legal system has evolved to deal with this.

Obviously the fact that Magistrates are only part-time means one of two things—either there are large numbers of Magistrates or relatively few crimes are committed. What it does mean is that most petty crimes are dealt with at local level by the people and never actually get to court.

There are very few crimes of violence or assault. Murderers, spies and those convicted political crimes such as treason and spying are those who receive penal sentences.

If the accused is found guilty and still feels wronged he has the right to appeal for retrial at a higher court, at Municipal or National level. At all levels, including the Supreme People's Court at National level the procedure has to follow the regulations laid down in the first constitution. There must be an open trial combined with people's assessment. In relation to the plea system the defendant has the right to defend himself, and the second trial is the final decision.