China makes 'remarkable progress' in human rights protection: white paper

Xinhua
A white paper issued by China's State Council Information Office lauded "remarkable progress" in the law-based protection of human rights in the country over the past five years.
Xinhua

A white paper issued by China's State Council Information Office on Friday lauded "remarkable progress" in the law-based protection of human rights in the country over the past five years.

According to the white paper, titled "New Progress in the Legal Protection of Human Rights in China," the country has opened a new era of human rights protection.

The white paper said that China has improved legislation to better protect the civil and political rights of its people.

China has revised the Criminal Law, abolishing nine death penalty charges and raising the bar on executing convicts that have received a death sentence with a two-year reprieve.

To implement the rule of law and promote humanitarianism, China has implemented the amnesty system stipulated in the Constitution, and granted amnesty for four types of criminals, it said.

China has also improved its laws to protect special groups. The white paper said China enacted the Anti-Domestic Violence Law, making clear the legal liabilities of the perpetrators and the procedure of investigation to protect victims of domestic violence.

China has revised the Criminal Law, increasing criminal punishment for buyers of abducted women and children, and criminalized such acts, according to the white paper.

China has promoted law-based administration to protect the people's legitimate rights and interests.

According to the white paper, the country has accelerated the process of defining in law the administrative structure and its functions, powers, procedures and responsibilities, prohibited administrative organs from expanding power beyond the law, and confined the exercise of power in an institutional "cage."

China has been pressing ahead with the reform of administrative approval. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, the State Council departments have canceled the requirement for administrative approval on 618 items, according to the white paper.

China has implemented the system of power or responsibility list, through which the public can obtain information about government functions, duties and powers, and their legal basis. By 2016, 31 provincial-level governments had published such lists, said the white paper.

To build a responsible government, China has set up a mechanism of internal legitimacy review of major decisions, and explored the means to establish and implement a lifelong liability accounting system for major decisions and a retrospective mechanism to hold people accountable for wrong decisions, it said.

China has been effectively enhancing judicial protection of human rights over the last five years, according to the white paper.

Efforts to prevent and correct wrongful convictions had seen the correction of 37 major cases of miscarriage of justice involving 61 people, and the acquittal of 4,032 defendants as per the law from 2013 to 2017, it said.

According to the white paper, the country has put people first in its judicial system, integrated criminal punishment with human rights protection and pressed ahead with judicial system reform.

China has endeavored to embody fairness and justice in each and every legal case, it said.

To that end, China has worked to guarantee independent and impartial enforcement of judicial and procuratorial authorities as per the law, press forward with reform of the criminal litigation system centering on trials and abide by the rules concerning excluding illegally-obtained evidence.

Since 2013, procuratorates have withheld their approval in the cases of 2,624 arrests and declined to prosecute 870 on the basis of exclusion of illegally-obtained evidence, the white paper said.

It said China is also working vigorously to protect lawyers' right to practice, guarantee the rights and interests of criminal suspects, defendants and prisoners and strengthen judicial protection of juveniles.

China has endeavored to raise public awareness of the rule of law and comprehensively govern the country by the rule of law.

According to the white paper, such efforts were meant to create a conducive social environment for legal protection of human rights.

State officials elected or appointed by people's congresses at all levels and by standing committees of people's congresses at county level or above are required to take an oath on the Constitution in public when assuming office. The goal is to encourage and inspire them to be loyal to, stick to and safeguard the Constitution and enhance the enforcement of the Constitution, the white paper said.

Almost all elementary and middle schools had designated vice principals or counselors in charge of education on the rule of law, it said, adding that all these schools have added rights of the person, right to education, and economic rights to their curricula, along with teaching activities to enhance the students' awareness of their rights.

With the aim of promoting good faith, respect for the law, and operations in accordance with the law, enterprises are urged to enhance education on the rule of law and make employees aware of the protection of their rights and interests, the white paper said.

Also, people's right to self-governance at the community level had been guaranteed and the role of people's organizations and social organizations in protecting citizens' rights was given full play, it said.

China has fought resolutely against corruption in order to guarantee people's interests.

"The Communist Party of China (CPC) has shown zero tolerance in the fight against corruption," said the document.

The CPC has revised codes about clean conduct, and regulations on disciplinary punishment, accountability, intra-Party scrutiny, and inspection tours, creating a framework for systematically preventing and combating corruption.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has investigated more than 440 Party-member officials at or above the provincial level and other officials registered at and supervised by the CPC Central Committee, it said.

"This strong enforcement has acted as a powerful deterrent," the white paper said.

In 2016, 57,000 Party-member officials took the initiative to confess their violations of Party discipline.

China has carried out "Sky Net" operation and intensified efforts to pursue, repatriate and extradite fugitives accused of corruption.

From 2014 to mid-October 2017, 3,453 fugitives were brought back from more than 90 countries and regions, including 48 on the list of 100 most wanted fugitives, and illegal assets worth 9.5 billion yuan (around 1.44 billion U.S. dollars) were recovered.

China has been actively promoting the development of global human rights under the rule of law.

"China has always safeguarded world peace and contributed to global development, and upholds the international order," said the document.

The Chinese government advocates building a community of shared future for humanity, it added.

China actively participates in building a legal system of international human rights, earnestly fulfills international human rights obligations, conducts in-depth international exchanges and cooperation in judicial field, and champions the healthy development of global human rights.

From 1990 to August 2017, 36,000 Chinese military peacekeeping personnel were sent abroad to take part in 24 UN peacekeeping operations. In 2017 China built a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops, figures from the white paper show.

In the Second Safe Mekong Joint Operation by China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, organized by China in 2016, 6,476 drug-related cases were solved, 9,927 suspects were arrested, and 12.7 tonnes of narcotics and 55.2 tonnes of precursor chemicals were seized.

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