III. Judicial Guarantee for Human Rights

In 2003, China further beefed up its judicial reform, claiming significant progress in judicial guarantee for human rights.

China has cracked down on various criminal offenses in accordance with the law to protect citizens' life and the safety of their property. In 2003, the Chinese public security organs vigorously combated gang-related crimes, homicide, robbery, rape and kidnapping, and other serious violent crimes and criminal offenses, investigating and cracking 2.341 million criminal cases.

The people's courts concluded the investigations of 634,953 criminal cases of first instance, of which 57,505 were criminal cases involving the jeopardizing of public security, 184,018 were cases of infringement on citizens' rights of the person or their democratic rights, and 278,969 were cases of property infringements, effectively protecting the victims' legitimate rights and interests.

The Chinese government has carried out a major reform in its social assistance program, replacing the Measures for the Sheltering and Send-off of Urban Vagrants and Beggars with the more humane and law-based Measures for Assisting and Managing Urban Vagrants and Beggars with No Means of Livelihood.

Public security organs have practiced strict enforcement of the law and emphasized law enforcement in the interests of the people. They have promulgated the Provisions on Procedures of Handling Administrative Cases by Public Security Organs; tightened law-enforcement procedures; strengthened internal supervision over law enforcement; firmly dealt with violations of human rights involving the extortion of confessions by torture, the abuse of guns and police instruments and other coercive measures; actively conducted on-site supervision and special supervision; and seriously dealt with law and discipline violations, so as to ensure that law enforcement by public security organs is strict, just and humane, and to protect and guarantee human rights.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Security has made great efforts to improve administrative management and publicized 30 measures for facilitating and benefiting the people, involving household register, traffic, entry and exit, and fire control that are closely related to the people's vital interests - to the acclaim of the people nationwide.

Preventing and correcting cases of extended detention to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the suspects and the accused. In 2003, the Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate and Ministry of Public Security jointly issued the Notice on the Strict Enforcement of the Criminal Procedure Law, and on the Conscientious Prevention and Correction of Extended Detention, which provided for a strict system for investigating and dealing with extended detention. The Supreme People's Procuratorate set up special telephones and e-mail addresses for handling reports on extended detention by procuratorial organs, so as to strengthen public supervision and to gradually put in place a mechanism for preventing and correcting extended detention.

In 2003, cases of extended detention involving 25,736 people were corrected, basically rectifying such deviations. This was a clear-up of extended detention, the most extensive in scope, the biggest in scale and the largest in number of people involved in the nation's judicial experience. Thereby, the judicial guarantee for human rights was greatly strengthened.

The people's courts have improved their work of judicial interpretation and the administration of justice concerning administrative and state compensation. In 2003, the Supreme People's Court formulated 20 documents of judicial interpretation related to criminal law, civil law, administration and law enforcement. Among them, the Interpretations of Some Questions Related to the Concrete Application of the Law in Handling Criminal Cases That Impair the Prevention and Control of the Sudden Onset of Infectious Diseases and Other Disasters, and the Interpretations of Certain Questions Related to the Application of the Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China, Part Two provided a guarantee to the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in a more practical way.

In 2003, the people's courts concluded the investigations of 88,050 administrative lawsuits of first instance, in 10,337, or 11.74 percent, of which improper administrative actions were annulled. The people's courts also handled 3,124 state compensation cases, where a compensation sum totaling 89.74 million yuan was ordered. All this has served to protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, legal persons and other organizations that had fallen victim to illegal exercise of power by government functionaries.

Procuratorial organs have exercised their power of legal supervision, and strengthened legal supervision over infringements at various links of lawsuits. In 2003, among the cases prosecuted by procuratorial organs, 259 were cases of illegal detention, 29 of illegal search, 52 of extorting confessions by torture, and 32 of abusing prisoners or detainees. Procuratorial organs appealed against court judgments of 2,906 criminal cases that they deemed incorrectly tried, and offered 1,184 written proposals for correction regarding infringements by the courts in handling criminal cases.

By the end of June 2003, procuratorial organs at all levels had set up 3,329 procuratorial offices at prisons, detention houses and reeducation-through-labor centers, established 75 procuratorates at large prisons, and provided procuratorial services through representative offices at 92 percent of the nation's prisons, detention houses and reeducation-through-labor centers.

In 2003, the Supreme People's Procuratorate carried out a special clear-up of complaints by prisoners at procuratorates at all levels, continuously strengthened its efforts in handling cases of criminal compensation, and went all out to remove obstacles to access by people with complaints, thus protecting the people's legitimate rights and interests in a practical way.

Legal aid has been implemented effectively, ensuring citizens' right to receive legal aid. The Regulations on Legal Aid, formulated and promulgated in 2003, are the first administrative statute to be ever issued in China. They established a basic framework for China's legal aid system, and defined the scope of citizens' right to legal aid.

By the end of 2003, there were 2,774 legal aid agencies in China, or 356 more than in the previous year, with 9,457 workers, or 1,172 more than in the previous year, providing legal aid services in 166,433 cases, or 36,658 more than in the previous year.

The people's courts further strengthened their legal aid work. In the same year, they reduced lawsuit fees in 4,860 cases, exempted lawsuit fees for 16,926 cases, and allowed delayed payment of lawsuit fees in 206,496 cases, where the litigants had real financial difficulties. The total amount of reduced and exempted lawsuit fees was 141 million yuan, and that of delayed payment of lawsuit fees was 916 million yuan. In this way, the people's courts ensured that people whose legitimate rights and interests had been infringed upon but had financial difficulties could afford to press lawsuits.

The legitimate rights and interests of criminals are also protected. In 2003, the Ministry of Justice, based on the Law on Prisons, formulated and implemented the Regulations on Reform Through Reeducation in Prisons, Regulations on the Procedures for Applications by Prisons for Commutation and Parole, and Regulations on Visits to and Correspondence of Foreign Prisoners, which further defined the legitimate rights of prisoners in custody.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice is actively seeking to reform the ways of imposing punishment in prisons and the ways of prison management, practicing open prison management in an all-round way, promoting the institution of law-based prison work, and making efforts to build a new type of prison system that is just, incorruptible, free of abuses and highly efficient, to guarantee prisoners' legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law.