Many analysts say that this year's human rights action plan is "unprecedented" in many ways. Our reporter Han Peng brings us an exclusive interview with one of the people who helped draft the plan - Mr Liu Huawen - the Secretary General for the Center for Human Rights Studies, at the China Academy of Social Sciences.
International human rights law expert, Liu Huawen, helped draft both of China’s two human rights action plans. He says this year’s plan is tackling tough problems head-on.
Liu Huawen, Secretary General of Center for Human Rights Studies, CASS, said, "This action plan directly addresses many issues of public concern. For example, it makes concrete plans to improve air quality, in response to worries about the harmful effects of pollutants. Over the next four years, the plan calls for the density of air born particles to be reduced, year on year. It also says that testing for the contentious PM 2.5 particles must be set up in all major cities by 2015, with regular data reports. Responding to last year's deadly school bus accident, the plan calls on the government to strengthen safety rules for school buses and campuses. The difference with this action plan is that it details concrete policies. We can say this is major progress on China’s human rights protection."
Han Peng, Beijing, said, "So it's different from the human rights white paper. This is more focused on the enforcement. So how exactly, or more specifically, will China enforce what it says on the human rights action plan?"
Liu Huawen, Secretary General of Center for Human Rights Studies, CASS, said, "This year's plan has a new chapter, titled "implementation and supervision". One of its clauses requires governments at all levels to put the plan into practice. It also specifies that a special agency should supervise and evaluate the plan's implementation, and release regular reports to the public. It stresses the importance of public education on human rights, saying the media should cover more human rights issues. And it calls for participation by ordinary people and non-government organizations."
Han Peng, Beijing, said, "This is not the first time China issued its human rights action plan. In 2009 it was the first time. It addressed a lot of tough issues like illegal detention and the use of torture. And it also focused on restriction of capital punishment. But some people say some of these goals haven’t been realized that much. So what's your take on that? How do you assess the achievement of the 2009 action plan?"
Liu Huawen, Secretary General of Center for Human Rights Studies, CASS, said, "No human rights record is perfect, but we can always strive for something better. It's impossible for any country to completely eradicate the violation of human rights. The most important thing is how we reduce these violations, and how we respond when such things happen. This requires the supervision of government power, and protection and compensation for victims. Just recently, China has amended its criminal procedural law. That's an important move in protecting the judicial rights of suspects."
Han Peng, Beijing, said, "Human rights protection is what all the human beings are pursuing. How are other countries focused on human rights action plan?"
Liu Huawen, Secretary General of Center for Human Rights Studies, CASS, said, "According to the UN, only 29 countries have formulated a human rights action plan. And only 8 have formulated more than one plan. China is one of them. Back in 1993, the UN called on all countries to push forward action plans. The US often criticizes other countries on their human rights records. But it has yet to issue its OWN action plan."
What is the significance of this plan? Liu says Human Rights Protection is one of the objectives within the Chinese government's overall development goal for the country.