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Jurisdictional conflicts in foreign-related criminal cases

The jurisdiction of foreign-related criminal cases is a difficult problem in the trial of criminal cases, which involves many external factors. The first instance court of a foreign-related criminal case shall be determined by which level of people’s court and which region of the same level of people’s court as the first instance court, based on the different circumstances of the foreign-related case.(1) Chinese people in China shall have jurisdiction over criminal cases against foreigners in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 2 “Jurisdiction” of the Criminal Procedure Law of China.(2) If a foreigner commits a crime within our territory and should be held criminally responsible according to our criminal law, the Criminal Procedure Law of China shall apply, and the relevant provisions of Chapter 2 “Jurisdiction” of the Criminal Procedure Law of China shall also be followed.(3) There is no clear provision in the Criminal Procedure Law of China regarding the jurisdiction of cases where foreigners commit crimes against our country and citizens outside of China.

In judicial practice, appropriate measures can be taken in accordance with the principles and legislative spirit stipulated in China’s Criminal Procedure Law. Generally speaking, if case are significant and relate to the overall interests of the whole country or certain provinces and cities, or when investigations need to be conducted nationwide or provincially and involve a wide range of participants, it can be tried as the first instance case of the Supreme People’s Court or the Higher People’s Court as appropriate. The vast majority of such cases should be tried by intermediate people’s courts in accordance with Article 20 of the current Criminal Procedure Law. Due to the fact that neither the place of crime nor the place of residence of the defendant in a criminal case committed by a foreigner outside of China is within the jurisdiction of any court in China, it is impossible to determine which intermediate court in that place will serve as the first instance court based on the principle of the place of crime or the place of residence of the defendant. In this regard, different treatments can be carried out according to different situations: firstly, cases with Chinese victims shall be tried by the intermediate people’s court of the place where the Chinese citizen who was injured resides or their place of residence before going abroad; Secondly, the case shall be tried by the intermediate people’s court corresponding to the public security organ responsible for investigating the case; Thirdly, when territorial jurisdiction is difficult to determine or there is a jurisdictional dispute, the intermediate people’s court designated by the superior people’s court shall conduct the first instance.



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