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New action plan will safeguard human rights

By He Dan (China Daily)

08:12, June 12, 2012

China will enforce measures to prevent extortion of confession by torture and collecting evidence through illegal methods, said a government action plan released on Monday.

The National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-15), published by the State Council Information Office, pledges that no one will be forced to prove himself or herself guilty.

The plan said all rights of the person are guaranteed by law in lawsuits and law enforcement in China, and the procuratorates will pay greater heed to the self-defense of criminal suspects at the stage of approval for arrest.

Procurators themselves should interview suspects when there are clues or evidence that prove the possibility of such serious violations of law as extortion of confession and collecting evidence through the use of force, the action plan said.

The procurators should carry out an interview if the criminal suspects requests one.

The action plan said China will improve mechanisms to facilitate the work of lawyers during criminal proceedings.

When defense lawyers offer written materials and evidence maintaining that no crime has been committed, that an arrest is unnecessary, that the suspect should not be detained or that there have been violations of law in the investigation, the procurators must examine them seriously. When necessary, procurators may consult lawyers in person, the plan said.

The procurators should state clearly in the arrest warrant whether they are going to accept the lawyer’s opinions and evidence and their reasons for doing so, according to the plan.

The State will improve the system of community-based correction, enrich the contents of community-based correction by education and improve measures to aid convicts in financial difficulties, it said.

“It takes time to improve human rights conditions in every country and the Chinese government has regarded protecting people’s human rights as its basic principle of governance and is working hard to better protect human rights,” said Zhou Wei, a professor specializing in human rights studies from Sichuan University in Chengdu.

China strives to respect and guarantee human rights, enabling every citizen to live with dignity, the plan said.

The plan stipulated that people’s rights of survival and development should be prioritized.

“China remains a developing country, so the new action plan also tries to address people’s livelihood issues including the wage-increase mechanism, the coverage of affordable housing program and compensation for land requisition,” said Chang Jian, deputy director of the Human Rights Research Center at Nankai University in Tianjin.

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