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China issues judicial rules to boost gov't transparency

(Xinhua)

10:14, August 14, 2011

BEIJING, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) issued a judicial explanation to regulate and standardize trial procedures for the country's increasing number of government information disclosure cases in a bid to promote governmental transparency.

The explanation, which was issued on Friday and published in Saturday's edition of the People's Court Daily, a newspaper run by the SPC, confirmed that citizens may file lawsuits against their local governments if their requests for information disclosures are rejected or if they do not receive a response from the government before a specified deadline.

The regulation specified cases that the courts should accept, including governments' denial or delay of information disclosures upon public request.

Under the new rules, citizens are also entitled to bring lawsuits if their local governments fail to respond to disclosure requests,even if they do not have a direct stake in the disclosure.

If the government is required to publicize information on its own initiative but fails to do so, citizens may first ask the government to disclose the information and sue the government if their prior requests are refused, the explanation said.

In some cases, the courts can include an order of disclosure in their sentences, which can help to solve disputes in a more timely fashion, an official with the SPC told the newspaper when explaining the rules.

China issued a regulation regarding the disclosure of government information in May 2008, ensuring public access to administrative and regulatory information.

The SPC official said that according to Friday's explanation, government departments that deny disclosure requests must offer valid reasons for their denials or provide evidence to the courts that specifies that the requested information is classified.

Information involving state secrets, commercial secrets or individual privacy should not be released. However, commercial secrets and individual private information can be disclosed with proper consent, the explanation said.

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