[JURIST] The State Council Information Office of China [official site, in Mandarin] announced Tuesday that the country will draft a plan to protect human rights. The panel being formed to draft the plan will receive input from more than 50 groups, including the Chinese Legislature [official site], the Supreme Peoples Court [official site, in Mandarin] and the National Development Reform Commission [official site]. The panel will also have an advisory group made up of 10 human rights experts from universities and academic institutions. The Information Office noted that the plan will include a focus on improving government function, expanding democracy, strengthening the rule of law, improving peoples livelihood, boosting public awareness of human rights, and protecting rights of women, children, and ethnic minorities. No information was provided as to when the plan will be released. Reuters has more. Xinhua has additional coverage.
The announcement of the plan comes as China continues to be the object of international criticism over human rights violations. While the country slowly addresses some of the concerns in legislation such as the recent Labor Contract Law [backgrounder], widely hailed as a major advancement [Bloomberg report] in China's protection of workers' rights, critics are quick to point out where the Chinese government is still lagging behind. In September, for instance, Human Rights in China (HRIC) [advocacy website] issued a report highlighting the continued issue of torture on prisoners [JURIST report] despite domestic and international bans.