Real-name whistleblowers must be replied to: Draft law

By Wang Jingqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-02-25 07:50
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A new draft amendment to the Administrative Supervision Law has proposed that discipline authorities are required to reply to each individual who provides his or her real name while reporting corruption in the government.

The draft law was sent to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, for its first reading yesterday. Usually, a draft law has to go through three reviews before being adopted.

The draft also stipulates that supervision departments should keep secret the contents of the tip-offs, the identity of the informant and details of the subsequent investigation.

"The changes are aimed at better protecting the rights and interest of informants," Ma Wen, minister of supervision, told legislators yesterday.

Early this month, Zhang Zhi'an, a former official in East China's Anhui province, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for taking bribes and avenging the man who reported him.

Zhang was found guilty of levying false charges against the whistleblower, who later committed suicide in a detention house.

Ma said the existing law, which took effect in 1997, needs a revision. "The revision aims to improve the existing law in terms of supervision measures and procedures."

According to the existing law, people subjected to administrative supervision are civil servants, a term mainly used to refer to government officials.

However, the Law of Civil Servants that took effect in 2006 expanded the definition of civil servants to officers working with Party and judicial organizations.

But the new draft revision makes it clear that only government officers are subject to administrative supervision, as Party and judicial officers have their own discipline supervision measures.

"Too many complicated changes will have to take place if other officials are also placed under the umbrella of administrative supervision. So, we decided to exclude the Party and the judicial officials," Ma said.

Meanwhile, the country's top legislature also gave a second reading to a draft amendment to the State Secrets Law yesterday.

The amendment defines State secrets as "information that concerns State security and interests, and if leaked, would damage State security and interests in the areas of politics, economy and national defense".

The draft makes clear that State secrets should be protected and "any act threatening the security of a State secret must be punished by law".

NPC Law Committee Vice Chairman Sun Anmin, who briefed lawmakers on the draft amendment, said secrets basically have three classifications: state, work and commercial.

It also defines secrecy levels and authority limits in the definition, and makes clear time limits for different levels of confidentiality and conditions for declassification.

The time limit for keeping top-level secrets should be no more than 30 years, no more than 20 years for low-level State secrets, and less than 10 years for ordinary State secrets, the draft says.

Xinhua contributed to the story

(China Daily 02/25/2010 page4)