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China Daily Website

Expert challenges HRW report

Updated: 2013-02-04 19:17
( Xinhua)

TIANJIN - A Chinese legal expert on Monday refuted criticisms on the country's legal reform from a New York-based human rights group.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) last Thursday noted in its latest annual report that China's legal reform "effectively stalled" during the previous decade.

The China Chapter of the 2013 report is filled with "one-sided observations and misrepresenting statements," said Shen Tong, a professor of law with the Nankai University in Tianjin, in an article released on Xinhua Monday.

Shen questioned the facts and logic behind the report's accusation and pointed out that it neglected the material changes made to the two procedural laws on civil and criminal litigations and the improvements in the legal system in safeguarding human rights in 2012.

"It's well-known that 2012 saw great progress in China's legal reform," said Shen's commentary "Rebuttal Against HRW Observation on China's Legal Reform."

Shen recalled the reform guidelines set by central legal authorities since 2008 and specified that those targets had been "basically achieved" by the end of 2012, with many achievements turned into legislation.

The commentary highlighted the 2012 revisions to the Criminal Procedure Law, which added "respecting and protecting human rights" as a general principle of law and codified the rules for excluding illegally obtained evidence and full audio/video recording for interrogations.

In the meantime, the August amendment to the Civil Procedure Law marks a major breakthrough towards a system for public interest litigations, especially for environment pollution cases, said Shen.

Chinese courts and procuratorates introduced various reform projects in 2012 to improve transparency and efficiency of their operations, while the administrative authority were also promoting its reforms on community correction and "re-education through labor" systems.

Shen also cited a whitepaper on China's judicial reform published in October to demonstrate the country's progress in terms of strengthening human rights protection.

China's judicial organs are taking effective measures to curb extortion of confessions by torture, protecting the right to defense of suspects and defendants, limiting the use of detention, strictly yet prudently applying the death penalty, according to the whitepaper.

Shen noted that there is no end to the best human rights condition for any country, as there is always room for improvement and this also applies to China.

However, the HRW chose to ignore all the progress in China's legal reform and human rights protection, while twisting the essence of the situation and disregarding the facts, said Shen.

In the end, what the report could achieve may not be able to defame others but only hurts its reputation, Shen added.

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