III. Judicial Guarantee
for Human Rights


Attaching great importance to safeguarding human rights through perfecting legislation, ensuring an impartial judicature and strictly enforcing the law, China has made considerable progress in building a judicial guarantee for human rights.

It is a principle of the Chinese Constitution and the basic program of managing state affairs of the Chinese government to run the country according to law. Over 390 laws and decisions involving legal problems have been formulated by the NPC and its Standing Committee, more than 800 administrative laws and regulations by the State Council, and 8,000-plus local laws and regulations by the local people's congresses since the initiation of reform and opening-up. As a result, a fairly complete legal system has taken shape, with the Constitution as the core. There are laws covering all fields of social life, providing a comprehensive judicial guarantee for the various human rights of the citizens. To improve the legal sense of the administrative law executors and judicial personnel at various levels and the sense of the rights and duties of the citizens, China has actively carried out publicity stressing the rule of law and mass activities promoting knowledge of the law. Some 750 million people in China have participated in activities involving the study of laws, over 280 special lectures on the legal system for leaders at the provincial or ministerial level have been held with an accumulative total of 12,000 participants, and 184,000 leaders at the prefectural or departmental level have received regular legal training in the past five years.

China punishes criminal offenses in accordance with the law, and protects the safety of citizens' lives and property and other human rights from infringement. In 2000, the public security and judicial organs adopted forceful measures to crack down on serious crimes of violence in accordance with the law, such as crimes with gangster connections and characteristics, crimes involving the use of guns and explosives, and gang-related crimes, as well as frequently occurring criminal activities such as theft and robbery. They also punished, according to law, a handful of criminals who caused deaths or gathered people to upset the public order by organizing and using the Falun Gong cult, effectively safeguarding social stability and the people's lives and property.

To deepen the reform of the judicial system, courts at various levels have strengthened the administration of justice and law enforcement, actively implemented the system of choosing and appointing presiding judges and individual jurors, fully carried out the system of public adjudication, perfected the judicial rehabilitation system, and further intensified the internal supervisory and circumscribing mechanism of the courts and the mechanism for correcting errors, thereby effectively safeguarding impartial justice. In 2000, China's courts tried or handled over 560,000 criminal cases at the first instance, in which more than 640,000 criminals were sentenced; over 3.41 million civil cases at the first instance; more than 1.31 million cases involving economic, intellectual property and maritime affairs; 2,447 cases involving state compensation; 86,614 administrative lawsuits, including 13,635 cases involving the revocation of inappropriate administrative practices by administrative organs, or 15.74 percent of the total number; and cleared over 138,000 cases exceeding the trial time-limits, and some 475,000 long-pending cases, basically liquidating the arrears of cases and effectively safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, legal persons and other organizations.

To earnestly guarantee that persons in financial difficulty can exercise their litigation rights according to law, the Supreme People's Court formulated the Regulations on Providing Judicial Assistance for Litigants Actually in Financial Difficulty in July 2000 to improve the judicial assistance system. According to the Regulations, in dealing with civil and administrative cases involving litigants actually in financial difficulty, especially the elderly, women, minors, the disabled persons and laid-off workers pressing for payment of alimony, the costs of maintenance and upbringing, pensions for families of deceased persons and old- age pensions, or for payment of medical costs and acquisition of material compensations for victims of traffic or industrial accidents and faulty medical treatment, payment of litigation costs may be postponed, reduced or remitted in accordance with the law. In 2000, courts across the country made decisions on such costs in more than 190,000 cases.

Procuratorial organs have reinforced litigation supervision according to law to improve the quality of handling cases and safeguard the legitimate rights of citizens. In 2000, procuratorial organs throughout the country placed 4,626 criminal cases involving misconduct by judicial personnel on file for investigation according to law; put forward 14,349 rectification opinions against public security organs adopting improper mandatory measures and other law-violating actions; corrected cases of exceeding the time-limit of summoning criminal suspects for detention at the investigation, suing and adjudication stages, 64,254 person-times; protested 3,798 court decisions and rulings on criminal cases, which were regarded as wrong, and 16,944 court decisions on civil administrative cases; and put forward rectification opinions against illegal commutation, release on parole or medical parole, 9,318 person-times. In the meantime, procuratorates have actively carried out nationwide a system of the main-suit procurator assuming full responsibility for handling cases, selected main-suit prosecutors through competition, and based on this, carried out the reform of public prosecutions, and trial-implemented the systems of public investigations of non- prosecution cases and the demonstration of evidence before the court -- all these have gone a long way toward safeguarding impartial justice and the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects.

The lawyer system and the system of legal assistance have been constantly improved, and are playing an increasingly important role in safeguarding the rights of citizens and promoting impartial justice. At present, there are over 9,500 lawyers' offices and more than 110,000 lawyers in China. In addition, 92 foreign law firms and 28 Hong Kong law firms had been allowed to set up offices on the Chinese mainland by July 2000. In 1999, lawyers throughout the country handled 1,364,000 lawsuits; in 2000, they participated in the defense of over 310,000 criminal cases, and provided legal assistance for criminal suspects at the criminal procedure and investigation stage in more than 170,000 cases. By the end of 2000, China had established 1,853 legal assistance organs at various levels, with 6,109 full-time personnel in their employ. In 2000, more than 170,000 cases of legal assistance were handled in China, in which over 228,000 persons received assistance, and 830,000 persons were offered consultancy on law-related problems, thus protecting the legitimate rights and interests of the poor, weak and disabled and other litigants.

China protects, in accordance with the law, the legitimate rights of prisoners, and has achieved remarkable results in reforming criminals. The recurrence rate of prisoners released at the end of their terms has remained between 6 and 8 percent for many years, a very low rate compared to those of other countries. To strengthen the supervision of the law enforcement of prison staff, the people's procuratorates at various levels have further improved the system of establishing resident agencies and offices in prisons throughout the country. In 1999, the Ministry of Justice began to carry out a three-year education program to improve the basic qualities of the prison police. As a result, their level of law enforcement has been markedly improved.