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Legislator: Human rights improving
(Zheng Lifei)
Updated: 2004-12-23 23:09

The country's top legislators say 2004 was a landmark year for human rights in China but more needs to be done.

Problems still exist, said delegates to a two-day seminar on human rights that ends today, but optimism was the order of the day.

"Enshrining human rights protection in the Constitution earlier this year was a major part of our push for rule of law and turns a new chapter for human rights endeavors in China," said Jiang Zhenghua, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of National People's Congress (NPC), country's top legislature.

The NPC adopted amendments to the Constitution in March this year, including adding clauses to protect human rights.

Co-organized by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and China Law Society, a seminar on the country's legal approach to rights protection was attended by leading researchers and law professors.

Participants hailed the Constitutional amendments as "a big leap forward," but said more needs to be done.

"The principle of human rights protection in the Constitution needs to be backed up by a legal mechanism in order to enforce these constitutional guarantees," said Zhou Jue, president of China Society for Human Rights Studies, in his opening remarks at the seminar.

Since China embarked on the opening-up and reform policy, the NPC and its Standing Committee promulgated 440 sets of laws or legal interpretations and the State Council has issued 960 administrative rules while local legislatures have developed more than 8,480 new pieces of legislation, many of which are directly related to human rights protection.

"Although it is impressive in terms of numbers, it is still far from enough both in its scope and category," said Zhou.

Such human rights-focused laws as the social security law and supervision law are still not available, Zhou said.

"A legal framework is indispensable to put the principle of human rights protection in the constitution into practice, a supervision mechanism on the Constitution, meanwhile, is also of equal importance," said Liu Yang, vice-president of China Law Society.

Some scholars attending the seminar are even calling for a national human rights committee to be in charge of human rights undertakings in the country.

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