China

China publishes new action plan responding to human rights challenges

English.news.cn   2012-06-11 15:06:39

Full Text: National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-2015)

BEIJING, June 11 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government on Monday publicized its second national plan for human rights protection, promising to address challenges and work for the happiness and dignity of every citizen.

The new plan, which addresses human rights protection work from 2012-2015, was published by the State Council Information Office and follows the previous one that covered the 2009-2010 period.

Due to the influences and limitations of natural, historical and cultural factors, as well as the current level of economic and social development, China is still facing many challenges in the development of its human rights cause and it has a long way to go before fully allowing people to enjoy human rights, the document says.

"It should be remembered that China remains a developing country that is fraught with problems from unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development," it says.

The 2012-2015 period will be a crucial time for the country to improve its human rights situation while implementing the 12th Five-year Plan (2011-2015), deepening reform and opening-up and accelerating the transformation of the country's economic development pattern, it says.

In the next three years, the Chinese government will combine its human rights endeavors with economic, political, cultural, social and ecological construction, the document says.

The document says China will safeguard and improve people's livelihoods and spare no efforts to solve problems of the utmost and immediate concern to the people.

Moreover, the country will practically safeguard its citizens' economic, political, social and cultural rights and promote social equity and harmony, so to ensure that every member of society lives "a happier and more dignified life," it says.

Liu Huawen, an expert with the Human Rights Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua that an action plan for human rights protection can be regarded as a sign that the state attaches great importance to human rights issues.

Liu quoted a report from the United Nations as saying that only 29 countries in the world, including China, have worked out national action plans to protect human rights and, among them, only eight have published such plans two or more times.

"The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights held by the United Nations in Vienna in 1993, urged countries to adopt such national plans," he said. "However, many countries, including those frequently pointing fingers at China, did not respond to the call."

All targets and tasks set by the action plan for 2009 and 2010 were fulfilled as scheduled. Among them, 35 percent of the binding targets and over 50 percent of the targets concerning people's livelihood had been met ahead of time or exceeded.

Over the past three years, China has made considerable progress in human rights protection.

In March, China's top legislature underlined the principle of "respecting and safeguarding human rights" by explicitly writing it into the nation's Criminal Procedure Law, after such a principle was written into the Constitution eight years ago.

Prof. Zhou Wei, director of the human rights law center of Sichuan University, said the new plan responds to more public concerns and includes more binding targets related to people's livelihood.

For instance, Zhou said, the plan includes measures to cope with air pollution and monitor air quality as an effort to protect people's right to enjoy a good environment, as the public has expressed increasing concerns about dusty weather and PM2.5, or particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter.

"Human rights protection is not an easy mission in any country. We need more time and persistent efforts," he said.

GUARANTEEING CIVIL RIGHTS

"China endeavors to develop socialist democracy, improve the socialist rule of law, expand the orderly political participation of citizens and guarantee people's civil and political rights in an all-around way," the document says.

In the plan, the country promises to observe more stringent judicial procedures for issuing the death penalty and the supreme court's review of cases in which the death penalty is issued.

China will improve the trial procedures in death penalty cases, the document says, adding that second-instance trials for all death penalty cases will be open to the public and the review of the death penalty should include the questioning of the defendant and hearing the opinions of his or her attorney, if the attorney so demands.

The supreme court will publicize typical cases to clarify standards for applying the death penalty, it says.

Measures will also be adopted to protect the rights of the citizens involved in lawsuits and law enforcement activities. For instance, the country will equip police investigation rooms with sound and video recording devices as well as video surveillance systems to prevent any violation of citizens' rights.

It will also step up efforts in investigating and punishing officials who abuse their power and violate citizens' rights in cases such as those involving illegal detention.

PROTECTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

In the plan, the Chinese government pledges to protect religious activities in accordance with the law.

The country will improve the organization and management of the Hajj, or the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, and provide better services for pilgrims, the document says.

The government will provide financial support for the construction of new school buildings in the Buddhist Academy of China as well as the expansion and improvement of the China Islamic Institute.

More money will be budgeted for rebuilding and expanding religious venues in Tibetan-inhabited areas in Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces.

GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY

In a bid to protect the people's right to be informed, the government will work to make government affairs public and push forward the disclosure of government information, the document says.

"Priority will be given to the disclosure of government information in the areas of financial budgeting, allocation of public resources, approval and implementation of major construction projects and construction of social welfare undertakings," the plan says.

The country will also steadily push forward the disclosure of auditing information, especially the results of investigations of major cases.

It will establish a system of informing the public of leading officials' appointments and dismissals, the document says.

Vacant leadership positions and related job responsibilities, as well as basic information of the candidates for such posts, will be announced within an appropriate span of time.

Editor: Chao Luan
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