V. Comprehensively Promoting the Rule of Law for Human Rights
Over the four decades since the launch of reform and opening up, from strengthening the legal system, to governing the country by law, and thence to comprehensively promoting the rule of law, China has worked hard to protect human rights throughout. It has endeavored to ensure that a well-conceived approach is taken to legislation, that law is strictly enforced, that justice is impartially administered, and that the law is observed by everyone. Striving to build a socialist country under the rule of law, it has made new progress in the legal protection of human rights.
1. Establishing the Legal Framework to Protect Human Rights
China has gradually established a socialist legal framework with Chinese characteristics. In this framework, the Constitution is at the core, and laws related to the Constitution, the Civil Law, the Commercial Law, and other legal departments are the main body, covering laws, administrative regulations, and local laws and regulations at multiple levels. The laws and regulations covering all levels of human rights protection are relatively complete.
The legal norms guaranteeing civil and political rights have been improved. The Legislation Law stipulates that only the National People's Congress and its Standing Committee have the power to legislate on matters concerning criminal offences and penalties, compulsory measures and penalties involving deprivation of a citizen's political rights or restriction of personal freedom, the justice system, and others.
The Criminal Law establishes three principles: 1) Any act deemed by explicit stipulations of law as a crime should be prosecuted and punished as such, and any act not deemed by explicit stipulations of law as a crime is not to be prosecuted or punished. 2) Everyone is equal before the law. No one is permitted to have privileges to transgress the law. 3) The severity of punishments must be commensurate with the crime committed by an offender and the criminal responsibility is to be borne by the offender.
The Criminal Procedure Law contains in its General Provisions the principle to "respect and protect human rights". It also clearly stipulates the principle of presumption of innocence and the rules for the exclusion of illegal evidence. It proscribes criminal acts infringing upon citizens' rights to life, health, freedom, property, etc. by law, while attaching importance to protecting the human rights enjoyed by criminal suspects, accused persons, and criminals in accordance with the law.
The Election Law, Law on Assemblies, Processions and Demonstrations, Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, and administrative regulations on religion, letters and visits, publishing, and association registration have clear articles on the protection of civil and political rights.
The National Security Law, Counter-Espionage Law, Counter-Terrorism Law, Cyber Security Law, National Intelligence Law, Nuclear Safety Law and other laws provide a solid legal basis for guaranteeing personal and property security, public security and national security.
The legal norms guaranteeing economic, social and cultural rights have been improved. China has enacted the General Principles of the Civil Law, General Provisions of the Civil Law and other civil laws to protect citizens' personal rights, right to dignity, and property rights.
It has enacted the Employment Promotion Law, Labor Contract Law, Trade Union Law, Law on the Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases, and other laws to guarantee citizens' labor rights.
It has promulgated the Social Insurance Law, and established a sound social security system for urban and rural development, ensuring citizens' right to social security.
It has formulated the Food Safety Law, Pharmaceutical Administration Law, Law on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, Law on Traditional Chinese Medicine, Law on Physical Culture and Sports, Regulations on National Fitness, and other laws and regulations to protect citizens' right to life and health.
It has enacted and revised the Education Law, Compulsory Education Law, Higher Education Law, Teachers Law and other laws to promote balanced development of education and protect citizens' right to education.
It has formulated the Cultural Relics Protection Law, Intangible Cultural Heritage Law, Public Cultural Service Guarantee Law, Film Industry Promotion Law, Law on Public Libraries, Regulations on Museums, and Regulations on Public Cultural and Sports Facilities, and other laws and regulations to enrich public cultural services and extend citizens' cultural rights and interests.
It has gradually improved the legal system of intellectual property protection with the Patent Law, Trademark Law and Copyright Law at the core in the efforts to protect by law intangible property rights, strengthen intellectual property protection, motivate subjects of innovation, and promote application of intellectual property rights.
It has enacted the Environmental Protection Law, Atmospheric Pollution Prevention and Control Law, Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law, Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law, Marine Environment Protection Law, Water and Soil Conservation Law, and other environmental laws and regulations, and established procedures and rules for environment-related tort litigation and public interest litigation to provide a solid basis for guaranteeing people's environmental rights.
2. Establishing a Strict and Impartial Law Enforcement System for Human Rights Protection
China has constantly strengthened law-based administration. By building a law-based government that has well-conceived functions and statutorily-defined powers and responsibilities, strictly enforces the law, and is open and impartial, clean and efficient, and credible and law-abiding, it has made the effective protection of people's rights and interests a criterion and an ultimate goal of government. It respects and protects human rights in strictly enforcing the law on behalf of the people.
Delimiting administrative power in accordance with the law. China has established a principle for administrative law enforcement that administrative bodies should not do things not mandated by law, introduced a list of well-defined government powers and a list of responsibilities, and prohibited any power not provided for by law, or any illegal use of power. The Administrative Litigation Law provides a clear legal basis for supervising administrative bodies' exercise of powers in accordance with the law and safeguarding the legitimate rights of citizens. Since the law was enacted and came into force, on average more than 100,000 administrative cases have been accepted each year. In its effort to improve governance, China has accelerated the transformation of government functions, streamlining administration and delegating power to the lower levels, exercising better supervision over the market, and providing efficient services to business. It has cut down the number of items subject to administrative examination and approval by the State Council departments, completely ruled out examination and approval for non-administrative licenses, and substantially reduced enterprise investment projects subject to approval by central authorities, intermediary services subject to administrative examination and approval, and licensing and recognition of professional qualifications.
Improving procedures for administrative law enforcement. China has established a sound system of benchmarks for administrative discretion, specifying the standards for administrative discretion as well as defining its scope, categories, and scale. It has improved the systems for conducting investigations, collecting evidence, notifying people subject to the administrative law enforcement of their right, managing confiscated income, and other areas of administrative law enforcement, clarified the conditions applicable to hearings, strictly implemented the system for reviewing the legality of major administrative law enforcement decisions, and carried out the system of creating legal counsel teams in government departments at all levels. It has implemented a system of disclosing information on administrative law enforcement and a system for recording the entire enforcement process so that every case of such enforcement is traceable. It has strengthened IT application and information-sharing in administrative law enforcement, worked to establish a unified information platform for administrative law enforcement, and improved the online case handling and information inquiry system.
Promoting strict, procedure-based, impartial and non-abusive law enforcement. China has made great efforts to regulate the exercise of law enforcement powers, promoted transparency in law enforcement, and worked hard to build an efficient, convenient, fair and transparent law enforcement mechanism. It has improved the mechanisms of quality evaluation and accountability of law enforcement, effectively regulating law enforcement officials' conduct and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of persons or parties subject to their actions. It has carried out pilot reforms of the comprehensive administrative law enforcement system, integrated law enforcement functional departments, promoted comprehensive law enforcement, and strengthened law enforcement in key areas.
China has improved the qualification management system for administrative law enforcement personnel, and required defined personnel to pass the unified national qualification exam of legal profession. It has worked hard on every aspect of a law-abiding public security system and the quality of law enforcement by police, and it has implemented the system of qualification exams for law enforcement police officers. By the end of September 2018, 1,700,400 police officers all over the country had basic-level certification for law enforcement and 47,700 had gained upper-level certification.
3. Effectively Enhancing Judicial Protection of Human Rights
Based on the Constitution, Organic Law of the People's Courts, Organic Law of the People's Procuratorates, and relevant procedure laws, China has put in place sound judicial institutions by which public security organs, procuratorial organs, judicial organs, and judicial administrative organs perform their own functions, and cooperate and check each other in the exercise of the investigative, procuratorial, judicial, and enforcement powers. China has strengthened judicial protection of human rights, improved the state compensation system and judicial assistance system, put people first in its judicial system, and endeavored to embody fairness and justice in each and every legal case.
Promoting judicial protection of human rights in extended judicial reform. China has issued four outlines for five-year reform of the people's courts and three decisions on three-year reform of the people's procuratorates. The 18th CPC Central Committee incorporated the need to strengthen and improve judicial protection of human rights into the plan of deeper-level reform at the Third Plenary Session, and into the plan of comprehensively advancing the rule of law at the Fourth Plenary Session. It has enabled the people's courts to exercise judicial power and people's procuratorates to exercise procuratorial power independently and impartially in accordance with the law. It has carried out unified management of personnel and financial assets at provincial level. The Circuit Court of the Supreme People's Court has been set up, and people's courts and people's procuratorates across administrative boundaries have been established. China has adopted a quota system for judges and procurators, enabling judicial personnel to be more regularized and professional.
China has implemented a case docketing and registration system to protect the rights of the parties concerned. It has further reformed the trial-centered litigation system to ensure that court trials play a decisive role in impartial adjudication, and implemented the judicial responsibility system to strengthen supervision over judicial activities. China has reformed and improved the system of people's jurors to promote judicial justice and enhance judicial credibility. It has established four major platforms for releasing information on judicial process, trials, written judgments, and the execution of judgments to promote judicial openness.
Ensuring that all parties enjoy the right to fair trial. China has fully guaranteed the right of criminal suspects and defendants to defense. A criminal suspect has the right to entrust a defender from the date when organs of investigation conduct the first interrogation or a compulsory measure is taken against the suspect. A defendant has the right to authorize a defender at any time. It has launched a pilot program of full coverage of legal defense in criminal cases to ensure that defendants in all criminal cases can obtain legal defense in order to promote judicial justice.
China strictly follows the principle of evidence-based adjudication to resolutely prevent and correct wrongful convictions. Suspects are acquitted in accordance with the law when the evidence does not support the allegation that a crime has been committed. China strictly controls and carefully uses the death penalty; the number of capital offences has been substantially reduced. In 2007, the Supreme People's Court took back the right to review all capital sentences.
China has established a sound legal aid system and expanded its coverage to provide legal advice and defense for criminal suspects and defendants. As of September 2018, the country had established some 3,200 legal aid institutions and more than 70,000 legal aid workstations, including some 2,500 in detention centers and 3,300 in courts, realizing full coverage of legal aid workstations in detention centers and people's courts.
Guaranteeing the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects, defendants, prisoners and people released after serving their sentence. China has published the Regulations on Detention Centers, and is drafting the law on detention centers. With these, China further guarantees the dignity and legitimate interests of detainees, and the right to meet lawyers, appeal, and receive medical treatment. It has formulated and strictly enforced the Prison Law, ensuring that criminals' personal dignity is not violated, and their personal rights, right to life and health, and right to education are safeguarded, and that prison affairs are open to the public. It has published the Provisions on Meetings Between Lawyers and Prison Inmates, and carried out activities for prison inmates to leave prisons and visit relatives, effectively protecting the legal rights of convicted criminals.
China has established the system of community correction. Community correction, or non-custodial correction penalties, was imposed on those whose crimes are relatively minor and who have been sentenced to public surveillance, probation, release on parole, and temporary sanction outside prison. By the end of September 2018, a total of 4.12 million persons throughout the country had received community correction orders. Of these, 3.42 million had completed their correction, and 700,000 were still subject to their correction orders. The recidivism rate in the case of those assigned to community correction is low, only 0.2 percent.
China has improved the assistance and management system for people released after completing their prison sentence. It provides subsistence allowances, temporary assistance and other aids for those eligible, and carries out employment support policies to improve the employability of people released upon completion of their sentence.
Improving the state compensation system and judicial aid system. China has promulgated the State Compensation Law, and continued to improve systems of administrative compensation, criminal compensation and non-criminal judicial compensation. It has increased compensation for infliction of mental distress, raised standards of compensation, and guaranteed that compensation is paid in a timely manner. The daily compensation for violation of citizens' personal liberty has risen from RMB17.16 yuan in 1995 to RMB284.74 in 2018. From 2013 to June 2018, the people's courts at all levels accepted 22,821 cases involving state compensation.
China has continued to improve the judicial aid system. It has published Decisions on the Work of Relieving Criminal Victims and several other documents, while establishing a judicial aid committee to actively dovetail judicial aid with social assistance and legal aid. From 2013 to 2017, RMB2.67 billion of judicial aid was granted to help victims in difficulty who had not been able to obtain effective compensation.
Effectively resolving difficulties in the execution of court rulings and ensuring the interests of successful litigants. China has established a sound mechanism for compulsory execution of civil judgment documents and a legal system of credit supervision, warning and punishment over dishonest debtors who have failed to respect judgements. It has also established a national online check and control system about the execution of court rulings, a network system for punishment of loss of credit, and a platform for online judicial auctions. From 2016 to September 2018, courts across the country heard a total of 18.84 million applications for execution, of which 16.94 million (including terminated enforcement procedures) were concluded. They involved sums amounting to RMB4.07 trillion.
China has regulated judicial procedures for securing, detaining, freezing, and handling assets involved, thus protecting the rights and interests of successful litigants while not infringing the legal rights of judgement debtors.
4. Establishing a Tight Rule of Law System Against Corruption
China has worked hard to promote the rule of law against corruption, and confine the exercise of power to an institutional cage, providing strong support for the legal protection of human rights.
Improving anti-corruption institutions. In 1978, procuratorial organs at all levels set up internal units to act against corruption and bribery, and units of law and discipline inspection to crack down on all crimes of corruption, bribery and malfeasance. The Supreme People's Procuratorate set up the General Administration Against Corruption and Bribery in 1995 and the Bureau Against Malfeasance and Tort in 2005. In 2007, the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention was founded. In 2018, the Constitution of the PRC was amended, the Supervision Law was enacted, and the National Supervisory Commission was set up, covering all public officials exercising public power.
Resolutely fighting against corruption. The CPC and the Chinese government have worked hard to enhance Party conduct, uphold clean government, and fight corruption. Showing zero tolerance for corruption, the campaign covers all those holding public office without exception. China imposes tight constraints, maintains a tough stance and a long-term deterrence, punishes both those who take bribes and those who offer them, and maintains a tough position on fighting corruption. From December 2012 to September 2018, commissions for discipline inspection and departments of supervision around the country filed a total of 2,153,000 cases and disciplined 2,132,000 persons. From December 2012 to September 2017, 58,000 cases of suspected criminal activity were transferred to the judiciary.
China has resolutely fought corruption that directly affects ordinary people's lives, especially in the areas of poverty alleviation, education, medical care, food and medicine, and criminal syndicate-related "protection" rackets. From 2015 to September 2018, a total of 399,800 cases of corruption and misconduct that undermine the people's interests were investigated, and 512,100 people were dealt with.
China has strengthened international cooperation against corruption, published a list of 100 most-wanted fugitives, and organized a series of "Sky Net" operations. From 2014 to September 2018, 4,719 fugitives were brought back from more than 120 countries and regions, including 54 on the list of 100 most-wanted fugitives, and illegal assets worth RMB10.37 billion were recovered.
5. Building a Positive Atmosphere for the Legal Protection of Human Rights
Enhancing public awareness of the rule of law for human rights and laying a strong foundation for the legal protection of human rights. Since 1986, China has implemented seven nationwide five-year plans on enhancing public legal awareness, popularizing the rule of law for human rights. It has also carried out a responsibility program in which state law enforcement departments are responsible for strengthening public legal awareness. China has set December 4 as National Constitution Day, and carried out constitutional education to promote legal protection of human rights to the public. China has incorporated education on the rule of law and human rights into the national education system. Basic knowledge of human rights has been integrated into primary and secondary education, and human rights law and other courses related to human rights are offered in universities.
China has set up national human rights education and training bases. Professional periodicals including Human Rights and Human Rights Studies are published in China. Special human rights training programs are conducted for officials at all levels and different strata or groups of people. Social organizations such as the China Society for Human Rights Studies have made great efforts to advance human rights research and education and promote knowledge of the subject, laying a solid social foundation for safeguarding human rights.