China / Politics

Human rights report denies China's judicial progress

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-02-01 19:01

BEIJING - A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report has denied and distorted China's progress in judicial reform, a law professor said on Saturday.

Shen Tong, of Nankai University, dismissed the "World Report 2014" released by New York-based HRW on January 21 as "biased", saying remarkable achievements were made in deepening China's judicial system last year.

The country decided to deepen judicial system reform, adhere to and improve a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics at the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress held in November 2012, Shen wrote in an article published by Xinhua News Agency.

At the beginning of 2013, the authorities put a series of judicial reform measures at the top of the agenda, including reform of "reeducation through labor", the petition system, how judicial power operates and the household registration system, it said.

Shen said the CPC pledged "equity and justice in every judicial case" at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee that opened on November 12, 2013.

According to a document approved at the session, endeavors should be made to uphold the constitution and laws, deepen reforms in administrative law enforcement and ensure independence and fairness in prosecuting bodies and courts, as well as improve judicial practice and the protection of human rights, Shen noted in the article.

Courts will be told to tighten the practice of ruling out illegally obtained evidence, while law enforcement agencies will regulate procedures of sealing up, seizing, freezing and handling properties involved in judicial investigations, Shen wrote, citing the document.

Wrong judgements will be prevented and corrected in a better way and those responsible will be investigated and could face punishment, and the country will work to ban extorting confessions through torture and physical abuse, the document said.

China will also reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty "step by step," Shen said in the article.

The country will also work to improve legal aid for citizens and lawyers will play an important role in protecting the legal rights and interests of citizens and corporations in line with the law, it said.

"The abolition of the 'reeducation through labor', or laojiao system, was important progress in protecting human rights, highlighting China's judicial reform in the last year," Shen said.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on December 28, passed a resolution to abolish reeducation through labor, stressing those serving laojiao time will be freed after abolition and that their remaining terms will not be enforced from December 28.

"Therefore, nobody is still serving a laojiao term in any form, " Shen said in the article, challenging the HRW report.

Shen also stressed that China had made breakthroughs in preventing and correcting wrong judgements of criminal cases.

The Supreme People's Court (SPC), the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security issued regulations to avoid unjust, false cases and emphasized the principle of "no punishment in doubtful cases," Shen added.

The professor cited a series of wrong judgements that had been corrected in 2013, including the case of Li Huailiang who was wrongly detained and jailed over 12 years for the rape and murder of a teenage girl in central China's Henan Province.

Lawmakers started amending the Administrative Procedure Law at the end of 2013, Shen said, adding it will alleviate citizens' difficulties in filing cases in which governments are defendants, and attach great significance to the building of a well-established judicial system.

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