Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Human rights strengthened in China

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-10 07:47

Editor's note: China has made unswerving efforts to improve its human rights record. The following are some experts' opinions on the progress China has made in human rights on the social security, environmental protection and judicial reform fronts.

Social security rights are an important part of human rights. The Chinese government issued a National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-2015) in June 2012 in order to strengthen the cause of human rights in social security institutions. In their overall reform plan, the authorities have vowed to build a fairer and sustainable social security system.

By the end of last year, more than 840 million people, including migrant workers, had been brought under the cover of the basic pension insurance system, making it the largest pension insurance scheme in the world. The social security system is aimed at preventing illness-caused poverty. And the national medical insurance system is to ensure people enjoy the best possible physical and psychological health.

Man Hongjie, researcher in law studies at Jinan-based Shandong University

The right to enjoy good natural environment is an important aspect of human rights, which is not only related to people's livelihood, but also to the future of the nation.

The rising environmental awareness among people encourages them to demand clean air, water, and a comfortable social living environment. Last year, the Chinese authorities pledged to promote the rule of law in governance. Along with that, environmental protection work has also been put on the legal track. The authorities are committed to making information more transparent, encouraging people to take part in the supervision of environmental protection work, and protecting the environment with the help of law.

The amendment to the Environmental Protection Law last year was carried out after seeking public opinions. And the new law is the strictest environmental protection law in China's history.

Also last year, the Supreme People's Court for the first time set up an environmental and resource adjudication division. The Supreme Court exposed 19 cases of environmental pollution, which were settled according to law or government administrative procedures. These cases show the judiciary's resolve to protect people's environmental rights.

Tang Yingxia, a researcher in law at Tianjin-based Nankai University

Human rights, as a concept, are central to the rule of law. The legal system is by nature an expression of human rights. And the judiciary is the principal means of enforcing the rule of law. It also plays the most important role in transforming conceptual justice into actual justice.

The amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law in 2013 prohibits law enforcement officers from extorting confessions through torture and other illegal means. The 2014 Work Report of the Supreme People's Court says the judicial authorities should avoid as well as correct the unjust, false and wrong cases, respect and protect human rights, and abide by the principles of "statutory crime and penalty," "no punishment in doubtful cases" and "evidentiary adjudication." This is the first time the Supreme People's Court has clearly excluded the provision of "illegal evidences" in its work report.

The report also says the judiciary will draw lessons from wrongly judged cases in the past, strengthen the adjudication of evidence, and work together with public security agencies and procuratorial organs to form a working mechanism to avoid unjust, false and wrong cases. The Supreme People's Court has emphasized similar key points in its Work Report of 2015.

In 2014, the people's courts at various levels acquitted 518 defendants in public prosecution cases, and 260 defendants in private prosecution cases, and reviewed and amended the original judgment in 1,317 criminal cases according to the law.

Zhang Yonghe, a researcher in human rights studies at Chongqing-based Southwest University of Political Science and Law

Judicial transparency can end corruption, and put "power in a cage". The establishment of a sunshine judiciary can ensure judicial justice. Courts at various levels can make good use of the Internet and other new media platforms to reach judicial information to the people, broadcast court trials alive and publicize judgment documents. These information disclosure mechanisms can allow people to better exercise their rights to know and effectively supervise the judiciary.

China is improving the assessment system for the judicial department to make the exercise of judicial power more efficient. Some courts use a digital system and data base to improve their operations and efficiency.

Judicial reform is a complicated systemic project. The right to impartial trial is the foundation of social and judicial justice. China will take a series of effective measures to ensure judicial departments use trials in a just manner.

Zheng Zhihang, a researcher at the law school of Shandong University

Most Viewed Today's Top News