terça-feira, 14 de abril de 2009

Pequim divulga plano sobre direitos humanos

Beijing unveils human rights plan

Kristine Kwo
South China Morning Post
April 14, 2009

The central government released its first action plan to improve human rights yesterday, pledging to raise mainlanders' incomes, protect their legal rights better and create more jobs.

But it focused largely on advancing economic rights and only touched vaguely on thorny issues.

The action plan is considered a way to deal with mounting dissatisfaction at home and abroad over the mainland's poor human rights record ahead of the 20th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on June 4, 1989.

"Under restrictions from nature, history, culture, and economic and social development, China still faces many challenges in development of human rights," the preface of the plan states.

Despite robust economic development for decades, the mainland's human rights record has drawn criticism, mainly from abroad but also increasingly at home.

Complaints focus on crackdowns on dissidents, protesters and Christians and the lack of a fair legal system and political rights.

The government said it would create 180 million new jobs under the plan and keep the unemployment rate below 5 per cent.

The global financial crisis has taken its toll on mainland exports and has forced as many as 20 million migrant workers out of work, spurring concerns over social instability. The government put the jobless rate at 4.2 per cent last year, although migrant workers were not included.

The government plans to retrain a million impoverished workers and build affordable housing. Urban and rural disposable income, it said, would both be increased by 6 per cent per year.

On the civil rights front, the plan highlights protection of the rights of detainees. It says measures will be rolled out to prevent torture, corporal punishment and verbal abuse of detainees. It also suggests establishing a system to carry out body checks on detainees before they go on trial.

Abuse in prisons has drawn much attention after media and internet users criticised a series of high-profile cases in which inmates died in mysterious circumstances.

In February, an inmate in Yunnan province was said to have died during a game of hide and seek. But under pressure from media and the internet, Yunnan authorities admitted the 24-year-old prisoner had been beaten to death by prison bullies.

In the latest unexplained case, a Henan man found dead in a Jiangxi detention centre late last month was said by officials to have died as the result of a "dreadful nightmare".

The action plan urges careful use of capital punishment and bans the use of force to obtain confessions. The mainland stands accused of putting criminals to death for minor offences and is believed to execute more people than any other country.

The outline is vague on the sensitive issue of political rights, but says the government plans to expand the number of people eligible to vote directly for urban neighbourhood committee members to 50 per cent.

Mainland leaders have repeatedly rejected the idea of instituting western-style democracy.

The plan says more channels will be created for petitioners to file complaints, including through the internet.

But many petitioners have complained that the problem with the petition system is the lack of an efficient administrative mechanism and a fair judiciary, because in many cases the central-level petition authority has little impact on how decisions are made at the local level.

They also say court decisions are often ignored because of collusion and corruption.

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