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China releases white paper on human rights

Sunday, September 26, 2010 06:28:23 PM, IANS

Beijing: China Sunday released a white paper on human rights, highlighting the role of Internet freedom and the country’s efforts in safeguarding its citizens’ legitimate civil and political rights.

“The overall cause of human rights has been promoted in an all-round way,” says the white paper, published by the State Council Information Office under the title “Progress in China’s Human Rights in 2009″.

Chinese netizens’ right to freedom of speech was protected and the Internet has become a new channel for the Chinese government to gauge public opinion, and consequently improve its governance, Xinhua quoted the report as saying.

It has become “common practice” for governments at all levels to consult the public via the Internet before formulating some policies, the white paper says.

It adds that government agencies have set up special websites to facilitate the public’s reporting of corruption and dereliction of duty by officials.

Chang Jian, vice director of human rights research centre of Tianjin-based Nankai University, said the government agencies have made marked progress in promoting transparency in public administration.

“Previously, few government agencies were aware of the necessity to release pubic information, prompting the public to sue relevant government agencies, while today it has become a common practice of many government bodies to publicise information,” said Chang.

In 2009, the Chinese government promulgated and implemented its first national action plan with human rights as the theme.

The National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010), which applies the constitutional principle of respecting and protecting human rights to the various fields of politics, economy, culture, social construction, among others, has been “effectively implemented”, according to the white paper.

Chang said, the action plan, compiled by people from the government, academia and non-government organisations, will be a road map in implementing the constitutional principle of respecting and protecting human rights.

China had further protected citizens’ civil and political rights by strengthening democracy and the rule of law, according to the white paper.

In 2009, China took a further step in improving its judicial system to strengthen the protection of human rights in law enforcement and judicial practices, the white paper says.

China has also issued its first systematic departmental ordinance regarding punishment of breach of discipline by the public security organs and police forces. The ordinance, which became effective June 1, clearly defined disciplinary measures for physical punishment or abuse of suspects and people in custody, among others.

Judicial transparency in China has also increased, the paper says.

The ethnic minorities’ rights to study, use and develop their own languages are protected. The state effectively guarantees the use of ethnic-minority languages in administrative and judicial work, news media and publications, broadcasting and film, culture and education, and other areas, it says.

On international exchanges, the document says China has joined 25 international conventions on human rights, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In 2009, China held human rights dialogues and consultations with the European Union, Britain, the Netherlands, Australia and Norway and communicated with countries such as Russia and Laos.

“Through dialogue and communication with other countries, mutual understanding concerning human rights has been enhanced, gaps have been narrowed and consensuses have been reached,” the white paper says.

The white paper is China’s 9th report on human rights since the country began releasing the document in 1991.







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