Reforms respond to people’s concerns
The newround of reform not only marks a newstage in comprehensively promoting the rule of law, it also reflects the all-round and integrated concept of the rule of law that China has formed.
Advancing the modernization of the State governance system and governing competence, improving the ability to govern the country with legal thought in a legal way, accelerating the construction of a fair and authoritative judicial system, guaranteeing independent and fairly exercised judicial and prosecutorial power according to the law, and perfecting the judicial protection of human rights, also actively respond to people’s concerns.
People should have the right to say whether the laws and regulations that govern them are good or not.
On Dec 28, 2013, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee approved the abolition of reeducation through labor, which has been implemented over the last fifty years in China. During this period, reeducation through labor played a role in safeguarding social order and guaranteeing social stability, as well as educating and rehabilitating lawbreakers. However, with the improvement of China’s socialist legal system and human rights environment, it was necessary to abolish this policy to maintain China’s unified legal system and the authority of Constitution.
Likewise, over the past four decades in China, the family planning policy has played a key role in controlling excessive population growth and easing the pressures on resources and the environment. But China’s social, economic and demographic conditions have changed in recent years, and after a full investigation, the NPC Standing Committee has decided to adjust the demographic policy according to the lawto allow couples to have a second child if one of them is the only child of his or her family.
Strict and civilized lawenforcement and enforcing the lawfor the people are at the heart of the rule of law. To place power within the cage of rules, it is necessary to govern according to the lawand to put government in the “sunshine”.
Since last year, China’s newleadership has reduced and simplified the administrative examination and approval procedures on a large scale, cancelling or decentralizing more than 400 administrative examination and approval items. The government has also further deepened reform of the administrative system by improving law enforcement procedures, and authorities at all levels are making efforts to deal with problems such as overlapping responsibilities, and endeavoring to exercise clear, fair and proper administrative procedures, and to guarantee citizens’ basic procedural rights, such as the right to know, right to defend oneself and right to public participation. They are also implementing non-mandatoryways, such as guidance, consultation and education, to perform their duties, in order to reduce and avoid illegal administrative and lawenforcement behaviors. The government is also paying more attention to the construction of administrative and legal procedures, especially with regard to land expropriation, housing demolitions and environmental protection.
To carry out the constitutional principle of respecting and safeguarding people’s rights and guarantee judicial fairness and justice, the Supreme People’s Court issued judicial interpretations of China’s Criminal Procedure Lawto further stipulate and refine the system for protecting people’s litigation rights on Jan 1, 2013. And courts at all levels are making efforts to make the judicial process transparent and making judgments public via the Internet. In 2013, during Bo Xilai’s first trial, the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court debuted live micro blog broadcasting, which received widespread attention both at home and aboard.
And with the construction of the rule of lawin China, judicial departments are promptly and efficiently responding to cases in which people have been unjustly, falsely or wrongly charged or sentenced; correcting the judgments and providing State compensation according to the law. In such cases, investigations are conducted to determine the liability and accountability of the judicial staff involved. The judicial authorities have also issued a series of more specific, detailed and feasible regulations, and have launched a series of more precise, effective and fair measures to safeguard defendants’ human rights.
Judicial departments have also successively established and improved the precautions in the working mechanism aimed at preventing unjust or false charges and sentences. These measures not only represent progress in judicial justice, but also promote the necessary conditions for fully propelling judicial reform. The author is the dean of Law School of Shandong University.