BEIJING, (Xinhua) — A white paper published Monday by the State Council Information Office hailed the new progress made in human rights protection in the field of justice as China enhances the rule of law in all respects.
The white paper, titled “New Progress in the Judicial Protection of Human Rights in China,” said the judiciary is the last line of defense to safeguard social fairness and justice, and judicial protection of human rights is an important part of human rights progress in a country.
It said that in recent years, especially since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), progress has been made in modernizing the system and capacity of state governance. The country has effectively protected the people’s rights and freedoms in an extensive array of fields in accordance with the law, while its people duly fulfill their obligations.
In particular, the white paper noted that since the CPC’s 18th National Congress, the allocation of judicial powers and responsibilities have been further improved, and the independent and impartial exercise of the judicial and procuratorial power ensured.
Since 2014, pilot programs have been promoted nationwide to improve performance in the following areas: judicial accountability, category-based management of judicial personnel, job security for the judicial profession, and unified management of the personnel, finance and property of people’s courts and procuratorates below the provincial level.
Meanwhile, the judicial accountability system has been improved, while judicial transparency promoted to ensure the right to know and the right to supervise for concerned parties and the public.
Progress was also made to ensure lawyers’ right of practice, so that lawyers are playing a bigger role in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of parties concerned.
The Regulations on Protecting Lawyers’ Right of Practice in Accordance with the Law, issued in 2015, made clear various measures to protect lawyers’ right of practice, made it more convenient for lawyers to participate in litigation, and improved the remedy and accountability mechanisms for ensuring lawyers’ right to practice.
The white paper also highlighted pilot programs to reform the system of people’s assessors and supervisors, the establishment of a national judicial assistance system, and the abolishment of the system of reeducation through labor.
It nonetheless said there is still much room for improvement for the rule of law in China.
Strengthening judicial protection of human rights will continue to be a major task in implementing the rule of law, it said, adding that the country will proceed from its prevailing reality, learn from the achievements of other countries regarding the rule of law, enhance judicial protection of human rights, safeguard social fairness and justice, and implement the rule of law in all respects.
LAWFUL CRACKDOWN ON CRIMES
To enhance judicial protection of human rights, China has punished crimes by law, tried civil and administrative cases fairly, and strengthened the execution of effective judgments, the white paper said.
In particular, it noted that a total of 54,249 people in 40,834 cases were investigated for work-related crimes in 2015.
From 2012 to 2015, courts at all levels concluded 94,900 cases of corruption and bribery and sentenced 100,200 criminals. A total of 10,300 cases of offering bribes were concluded and 9,219 criminals were sentenced, said the white paper, adding that courts at all levels concluded 21,300 cases of dereliction of duty, and sentenced 23,500 criminals.
Among the defendants, 381 were formerly at or above the department or bureau level, and 2,269 were at or above the county or division level, the white paper said.
It went on to say that the state focused on punishing violent terrorist crimes, serious crimes of violence, gangland crimes, crimes involving guns and explosives, crimes endangering food and medicine safety, and crimes related to drug production and trafficking, among others.
Criminals who infringe the rights of minors were brought to justice, and the protection of minors’ rights was strengthened.
Death penalty is under strict control and is employed with prudence, the while paper said.
It said China’s attitude toward the death penalty is to ensure that it applies only to a very small number of extremely serious criminal offenders.
China in 2011 adopted the Amendment (VIII) to the Criminal Law which abolishes the death penalty for 13 economy-related, non-violent offenses.
The Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law, adopted in 2015, also reduced the number of crimes for capital punishment, abolishing the death penalty for nine areas of crime. It also extended the possibility of reprieve in cases of capital sentence.
In death penalty cases, the defendant’s right to defense and other legitimate rights and interests are fully protected, as hearings are held for all death penalty cases of second instance, the white paper said.
When the Supreme People’s Court reviews a death penalty case, it focuses on interrogating the defendant in accordance with the law, and listening to opinions of the defense counsel, according to the white paper.
PREVENTING & CORRECTING MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE
Meanwhile, the white paper said China has revised the Criminal Procedure Law, and implemented principles of legality, in dubio pro reo, exclusion of unlawful evidence.
The country revised the Civil Procedure Law to effectively settle disputes, revised the Administrative Procedure Law to strengthen the protection of legitimate rights and interests of private parties in administrative lawsuits, it said, adding it enacted the first Anti-Domestic Violence Law to strengthen legal protection of the personal rights of victims of domestic violence.
Judicial authorities have “put in place a system to exclude unlawful evidence and protect the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects,” the paper said.
In 2014, the Ministry of Public Security issued more explicit regulations concerning the scope of and interrogation recording requirements for cases subject to audio and video recording.
The interrogation rooms of public security organs and detention houses are all equipped with audio and video recording facilities to prevent misconduct in law enforcement such as extorting confessions by torture and obtaining evidence through illegal means.
In 2015, the procuratorial organs at all levels demanded the withdrawal of 10,384 cases wrongly filed by investigation organs, and regulated 31,874 cases of illegal conduct involving abuse of compulsory measures and unlawfully obtaining evidence.
China has also improved procedures for juvenile criminal cases to help underage offenders better reintegrate into the society, said the white paper.