CHINA / National

Law 'will ensure accurate info'
By Sun Shangwu (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-04 06:02

The proposed law prods governments to release information in a "uniform, accurate and timely manner," and violation may result in administrative punishments such as "a demerit or a serious demerit" of government officials, or even removal from office.

Amendment VI of the Criminal Law, which was adopted by the NPC Standing Committee last week, allows a maximum seven-year jail sentence for officials.

"This provision will not have any adverse effect on the regular reporting of emergencies by news media. It will, on the contrary, help enhance the accuracy and authority of such information, making news media more accountable," said Wang.

He said the original intention of the legislation was to "prevent certain news media from disseminating groundless news or rumours, or reporting false information which may mislead the public and cause social panic."

Wang added that the fines are applicable "only when the circumstances are serious or any grave consequences have been caused."

During the panel's discussions last week, some lawmakers still had different views on the provision.

For example, NPC Standing Committee member He Keng disagreed with it.

He said journalism has its own rules and argued that media supervision was not strong enough in China.

Wang said the proposed law prohibits governments and officials from abusing their law enforcement powers during emergencies.

Protection of civilian's rights and restraining governments' behaviours have been the guidelines of the proposed law, according to Wang.

"This represents great progress for China's democratic development and legal construction," he noted.

Under the law, people will be compensated if their properties are damaged during government authorized emergency responses.

Wang predicted that the law may be passed by the NPC Standing Committee this year.

Under China's legislation, a law usually goes through three rounds of reviews before it is passed.

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