Protection of human rights gets big boost

BEIJING – Chinese officials have hailed the country’s improvements in curbing forced confessions and other illegal means of obtaining testimony as examples of the country’s achievements in protecting human rights.

Xiong Xuanguo, vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court, said the courts at all levels nationwide heard 81 cases involving forced confessions and five cases of obtaining testimony through violence in 2009 and 2010, after the supreme court outlawed forced testimonies via a new regulation.

Xiong said the upholding of the principle of evidentiary adjudication and the prohibition of forced confessions were among steps taken to protect the rights of detained people.

The Criminal Procedure Law, however, still approves the use of self-incriminating testimony in court, a primary contributor, say critics, to forced confessions and an item being widely urged for amendment.

Bi Xiqian, a professor of criminal investigation at the Chinese People’s Public Security University, said at a forum on Friday that 20 out of the 25 misjudged cases involved forced confessions. Bi added that prosecutors’ supervision of criminal investigations were also insufficient.

Tian Wenchang, director of the criminal committee of the All China Lawyers Association, told China Daily the Criminal Procedure Law, which will “very likely” be amended this year, may give suspects immunity from testifying against themselves, a major move in human rights protection.

Xiong made the remarks at an assessment meeting of the National Human Rights Action Plan (2009-2010), the first national plan on human rights.

At Tuesday’s meeting, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the national poverty alleviation authority and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation spoke about the implementation of the action plan to more than 200 attendees from State organs, people’s organizations, non-governmental organizations and research institutes.

Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, concluded the meeting by saying that, by the end of 2010, all measures stipulated in the action plan had been put into practice, with all the goals achieved and tasks fulfilled on time.

“Of these, 35 percent of the binding targets and more than half of the targets concerning people’s livelihoods were met ahead of time,” he said.

Wang said the fulfillment of all targets and tasks in the action plan as scheduled shows that the cause of human rights in China has “entered a new stage”, adding that citizens’ awareness of human rights has been remarkably enhanced and the people’s overall living standards have been markedly improved with progress made in the national economic and social development.

Wang also announced that China is to initiate a new phase of the National Human Rights Action Plan.

 Source: China Daily

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