[JURIST] The State Council Information Office (SCIO) [official website, in Chinese] on Monday published [official press release] its second National Human Rights Action Plan [text]. The plan succeeds a previous plan [text; JURIST report] covering 2009-2010 period and will address human rights protection work from 2012-2015. The plan indicated that the country has not fully been able to ensure complete access to human rights for its citizens. It cited natural, historical and cultural factors and economic and social development as the main causes for the problem. In order to resolve the issue, the government will take “proactive measures” to ensure a more efficient system of protecting citizens’ human rights in virtually all aspects of their lives. The plan will operate on three principles: pushing forward the work according to law, comprehensive advances and pursuing practicality. In addition to protecting people’s rights to subsistence and development, such as right to work, right to social security or right to education, the plan will also take measures to improve the civil and political rights of citizens. Examples of such measures are a heightened standard for death penalties, opening up second-instance trials for all death penalty cases to the public, improving procedures for a fair trial and requiring the country’s supreme court to publicize typical cases to clarify standards for applying death penalty. Freedom of religious belief is one of the rights within the plan, and the government plans to protect religious activities in accordance with the law. The last part of the plan includes measures to protect the rights of minority groups allowing them to participate more in state and social affairs.
China has faced criticism for its strict laws and human rights violations. Last week, China proposed [JURIST report] changes to its Internet law that would limit the ability of posting comments anonymously. It had tried to do so in 2010 by requiring [JURIST report] users to use their real names when posting on certain Chinese websites. In May, blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who arrived in New York after he left the US embassy [JURIST reports] earlier that month, called the US to push China to promote the rule of law in China. Earlier in May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that China’s chengguan, a para-police organization charged with enforcing non-criminal administrative regulations, is abusing its power.