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Full text: New Progress in the Legal Protection of Human Rights in China
December 15,2017   By:Xinhua
 
IV. Consolidating Social Mechanisms for Legal Protection of Human Rights
 
A society under the rule of law serves as a social mechanism for legal protection of human rights. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has endeavored to raise public awareness of the rule of law and comprehensively govern the country by the rule of law, in order to create a conducive social environment for legal protection of human rights.
 
Strengthening officials' awareness of the rule of law and the responsibility for the protection of human rights. All officials elected or appointed by people's congresses at all levels and by standing committees of people's congresses at county level or above, and all officials appointed by people's governments, people's courts and people's procuratorates at all levels should, when assuming office, take an oath on the Constitution in public in order to encourage and inspire them to be loyal to, stick to and safeguard the Constitution and enhance the enforcement of the Constitution. The Regulations on the Duties and Responsibilities of Top Leaders of the Party and Government as the Principal Persons Liable for Implementing the Rule of Law has been released. The regulations stipulate that Party secretaries and government heads at or above county level shall be the first to be held accountable in promoting the rule of law, and that fulfillment of such duties is among the key indicators in the official performance evaluation system. "The Opinions on Improving the System of Study and Use of the Law of Staff Members in State Organs" has been released, stipulating that obedience to law and action in accordance with the law serve as important criteria for the performance of officials. A practice of studying the law with Party committees or Party leadership groups has been formed across the country. The rule of law has become an essential component of official appointment and promotion training, as well as a compulsory course in Party schools and official training schools at all levels. Human rights knowledge is a common element of the curriculum. The Information Office of the State Council and national human rights education and training bases have convened multiple training classes on human rights for officials, to disseminate information and increase awareness of the subject. 
 
Popularizing ideas about human rights and the rule of law. December 4 has been celebrated as the National Constitution Day and the education on the Constitution has been popularized to promote the spirit of the Constitution. The sixth and seventh five-year plans for popularization of and education in the law should be carried out to call for popularization and obedience of the law across the country. "The Opinions on Law Publicity Responsibility of State Organs" stipulates that state organs have the primary responsibility for publicity and education on the rule of law. "The Guideline on the Education of the Rule of Law Among Adolescents" has been released to incorporate education on the rule of law in the national education system. It will develop adolescents' awareness of the rule of law and popularize understanding of the rule of law. It will also build a mindset in favor of abiding by the law, and give people the awareness and enhance the ability to protect their own rights and interests by means of the law, and help them enhance their ability through legal training to participate in national and social life. By 2016 more than 32,000 education centers on the rule of law had been established nationwide and almost all elementary and middle schools had designated vice principals or counselors in charge of education on the rule of law. All these schools have added rights of the person, right to education, and economic rights to their curricula, along with teaching activities designed for students at different stages to enhance their awareness of their rights. With the aim of promoting good faith, for the law, and operations in accordance with the law, enterprises are urged to enhance education on the rule of law and make employees aware of the protection of their rights and interests. Intensive training courses have been organized for migrant workers and the "Rule of Law Publicity Week" has been launched for them. The awareness of the rule of law and the rights of rural residents and migrant workers has been enhanced. Eight national human rights education and training bases have been established in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Guangzhou to expand research on human rights theory, and education and training on human rights.
 
Enhancing public legal services and mediation for people. "The Opinions on Promoting the Public Legal Services System" has been released to integrate and promote equal access to public legal services. In order to give the public convenient access to legal services to protect their rights and interests, the following measures are pursued:
 
increase the supply of public legal services;
 
guarantee availability of lawyers in every county;
 
establish public legal services halls where lawyers, notarization, judicial authentication and mediation will be available;
 
promote the system of "designating a legal counselor to every village and community", and
 
improve the "12348" free hotline for legal advice.
 
The key lies in strengthening mediation in industry and the professions, and in solving medical and labor disputes rapidly in accordance with the law. From 2013 to 2016, more than 37 million disputes were mediated, including 5.45 million disputes in industry and the professions. By the end of 2016 there were 784,000 people's mediation centers with 3.8 million mediators serving communities in both rural and urban areas. From 2013 to 2016, more than 9 million disputes were mediated, and over 97 percent of those disputes were solved. This played a key role in relieving conflict and easing stress at the community level.
 
Guaranteeing people's right to self-governance at the community level. China has made constant effort to improve self-governance at the community level, strengthen community consultation in urban and rural areas, and complete the mechanism to help urban and rural residents express their demands, coordinate interests and protect rights and interests. By 2016 about 85 percent of villages had set up villagers' meetings or meeting of villagers' representatives. Eighty-nine percent of communities had established congresses of residents. Sixty-four percent of communities had established consultative councils, and consultative forms such as "villager discussion", "community consultation", "property owner consultation", and "villager hearing on decision-making" have steadily taken shape in China. By 2016, 98 percent of rural villages nationwide had formulated villagers' codes of conduct or villagers' self-governance regulations, while similar residents' codes of conduct or residents' self-governance regulations had been formulated in urban communities. These play an extensive role in social governance.
 
Giving full play to people's organizations and social organizations in protecting the legitimate rights and interests of citizens. People's organizations such as trade unions, communist youth leagues and women's federations communicate people's demands through multiple channels and actively offer suggestions on formulating laws against domestic violence and regulations on supervision of labor protection. To protect the legitimate rights and interests of workers, trade unions at all levels scrutinize the enforcement of laws on labor and expose major violations. By the end of 2016 there were nearly 990,000 watchdog organizations in all trade unions with almost 2 million observers. From 2012 to 2016, women's federations at county level or above handled 1.33 million complaints about violations of women's rights and interests through multiple channels like the "12338" hotline, and community-level women's federations worked together with professionals to investigate and resolve disputes and provide legal assistance and care to the woman victims so that their rights and interests are protected. Social organizations of all kinds play a significant role in safeguarding legitimate public rights and interests, expressing legitimate demands and participating in public affairs management. By June 2017 there were 725,000 registered social organizations nationwide, including 344,000 social groups, 375,000 social services organizations, and 5,919 foundations. The strengths of non-governmental philanthropic organizations have played an important role in poverty alleviation, disaster relief, and emergence response. The government is spending more to purchase services from social organizations. In 2017 the central government approved 474 projects totaling RMB182 million plus RMB77 million of supporting funds, directly benefiting over 1 million people and training nearly 7,400 heads of social organizations.
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