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Rule of Law
Cover Stories Series 2012> Rule of Law
UPDATED: March 19, 2012 NO.12 MARCH 22, 2012
Applause to Progress

The Criminal Procedure Law Amendment of China was passed in the Fifth Session of the 11th National People's Congress of the country that concluded in Beijing on March 14. This is another big step forward in the country's democratic construction. "To respect and protect human rights" is written into the Criminal Procedure Law Amendment. It is the first time that China has written into a code "to respect and protect human rights" outside the Constitution.

China's Criminal Procedure Law was promulgated in 1979 and was amended once in 1996. Over the past 16 years, as the Chinese economy and society developed rapidly, new situations have emerged in regard to criminal offenses. As the country undergoes democratic reform and progresses in adopting a rule of law while enhancing the public's awareness of the rule of law, people impose higher demands on maintaining judicial fairness and protecting human rights.

The goal of the amendment is to ensure the principle of punishing crimes while protecting human rights is fully implemented in the execution of laws. Almost half the clauses in the current Criminal Procedure Law have been amended, with another 66 new clauses being added. The amendments aim to balance between cracking down on crime and protecting human rights. According to the amendment, the principle of protecting human rights will be further strengthened through the law enforcement process, including taking compulsory measures, evidence confirmation and trial procedures.

The amendment fully reflects the people's will. It pays more attention to the balance between punishment and human rights protection, fairness and equality, legal effect and social effect. It embodies the concept of rule of law in legal documents.

It has been only a few dozen years since China began to construct democracy and the legal system, while developed countries have already spent hundreds of years developing their legal systems. In this sense, China is still at the early stage on the road of legal construction. It must take into full account of its national condition, and refrain from copying other countries' experience. The development of democracy and legal construction should be done step by step in the process of continuous learning and practicing.

Therefore, applause should be given to China's progress in democratic and legal construction as well as human rights protection. We expect to see further improvement of this law.

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