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Home >> China
UPDATED: 21:18, April 10, 2007
Austrian human rights delegates find progress, room for improvement in China
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A six-member Austria human rights delegation on Tuesday said China's new regulations banning the trade in human organ transplants were "very positive".

Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, head of the delegation, said the regulations served as a very important legal shield for human rights.

"We know the regulation will take effect on May 1, and we will keep watching its implementation," said Hosek, chairwoman for the equal rights committee of Austria's National Council.

China issued its first regulation on human organ transplants on Friday, banning organizations and individuals from trading organs in any form.

Last year, overseas news media accused the country's health authorities of transplanting organs from executed prisoners, who were not necessarily voluntary donors.

China's Supreme People's Court has ordered that organs of executed prisoners be used for transplants only when the prisoners voluntarily agreed, or their families had given consent.

The delegation, at the invitation of China Society for Human Rights Studies, visited China from April 2 to 10, and discussed with government officials issues covering the rights of women, children and disabled, as well as the organ trade and death penalty reform.

Though there was still room for improvement in areas such as the protection of the interests of farmers and minority groups, China's human rights had seen progress, the delegation agreed.

"The Chinese officials not only showed us their achievements, but also told us the disadvantages of their work," Hosek said.

The delegation visited Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an, in central China's Shaanxi Province, and talked with government officials and local residents

In a village near Xi'an, a woman farmer showed Hosek her 600 livestock.

"There I saw for myself the development of China's rural areas and the improved life of the Chinese farmers, which makes me believe that the disparity between Chinese rural and urban areas has lessened," said Hosek.

She said local officials had admitted medical services and social welfare in rural areas still failed to meet demand.

After talks with officials of the Office of the State Council Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, Hosek said, "In terms of human rights, the compensation for local residents who were moved from the construction site to other places, is a valuable measure to protect people's interests."

One official with the committee "frankly" told her that there still existed infringements of people's rights during the relocations.

Hosek, on her second visit to China since 2002, said, "The Chinese officials at that time were not so daring to speak as this time.

"We talked about many issues like rights of children and disabled people, trafficking of human organs and ... the death penalty."

Barbara Rosenberg, vice-director of Renner Institute, on her first visit to China, said, "China has made progress in the human rights field and the Chinese people have come to realize the importance of human rights.

"But work still needs to be done to improve social welfare so that everyone can benefit from the nation's fast economic development."

She suggested China promote human rights education in primary and middle schools.

She said Austria and China should have frequent dialogues on human rights issues and better exchange ideas within the framework of the United Nations.

Source: Xinhua

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