BEIJING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- New rules for better management of petitions prohibit putting petitioners under any form of confinement.
"Various political and legal organs should further regulate the handling of lawsuit-related petitions, resolutely avoiding blocking the people from normal petitioning by any means," said a circular released Wednesday by the general offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council.
Petitioning, also known as "letters and calls", is the administrative system for hearing public complaints and grievances.
Many complaints are filed each year in China, in which petitioners generally see injustice in land acquisition, social security, education, healthcare or environmental protection.
They can supposedly take their grievances to a higher level if they fail to get satisfactory feedback from local petition offices, but officials often prevent them from raising such cases with their superiors.
The circular stresses that illegal or indirect confinement of petitioners is strictly prohibited, and leading officials of related law enforcement organs are responsible for receiving petitioners and reading their letters.
Echoing a regulation released last month by the State Bureau for Letters and Calls highlighting protection of petitioners' rights, Wednesday's circular urges the setting up of a system to dissolve conflicts and disputes by lawful means.
The bureau noted "plenty of problems" in the petition system as "some local departments and authorities harm people's interests and hurt their feelings."
According to the circular, petitions concerning injustice in civil, commercial, administrative and criminal lawsuits should be handled by law enforcement organs rather than by general departments of letters and calls, a move to boost efficiency.