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China issues first plan to boost human rights

CHINA yesterday promised its citizens stronger legal protection, improved incomes, better health care and expanded channels for complaints as part of its first "human rights action plan."

The blueprint "gives priority to the protection of the people's rights to subsistence and development," while acknowledging that "China still confronts many challenges and has a long road ahead in its efforts to improve its human rights situation."

The "National Human Rights Action Plan of China," issued by the Information Office of the State Council, highlighted a list of rights that will be promoted within the next two years.

Among them, more job opportunities will be created, per-capita income will be increased, the social security network will be broadened, and health care and education will become more accessible and affordable.

"The realization of human rights in the broadest sense has been a long-cherished ideal of mankind and also a long-pursued goal of the Chinese government and people," the document said.

The government will continue to raise the incomes of rural and urban residents, especially for people in the low to middle ranges.

The government will intensify efforts in poverty alleviation, resolve food and clothing problems of the poor as soon as possible, gradually raise their incomes and help them escape poverty.

Health care coverage for children will reach 90 percent in urban areas, and 60 percent in rural areas by 2010.

On the legal front, the plan called for effective measures to safeguard the rights of detainees and ensure humanitarian treatment.

Steps will be taken to prohibit corporal punishment, the use of torture to extract confessions and other prisoner abuses, the plan said.

The plan also envisions a supervisory system and "power-restraint mechanism for law enforcement" and intensified investigations into illegal activities committed by law enforcement personnel.

In addition, the state is intensifying supervision by prosecutors of prisons and detention houses.

Under the plan, the Chinese government will set up a national office to deal with public complaints to make it easier for citizens to voice their opinions, report problems and offer suggestions. The plan said the channels for complaints will be broadened and remain unblocked.

The country will also strengthen efforts to guarantee the rights of news agencies and journalists, according to the State Council announcement.


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