In a move to address global criticism over its human rights record, the State Council Information Office of China released a white paper — New Progress in the Judicial Protection of Human Rights in China — on Monday (12 September). The paper commended the changes made in the field of justice for rights protection.

According to the paper, since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) came to power in 2012, amendments have been made in modernizing the system and capacity of state governance. It also said the country had efficiently guarded the people's rights and freedoms in several areas in accordance with the law and added that the judiciary was the last line of defence to safeguard social fairness and justice.

"Progress was also made to ensure lawyers' right of practice, so that lawyers are playing a bigger role in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of parties concerned," the paper stated.

According to the white paper, China has revised the Civil Procedure Law to effectively settle disputes, amended the Administrative Procedure Law to strengthen the protection of legitimate rights and interests of private parties in administrative lawsuit. It also added that the country had endorsed the first Anti-Domestic Violence Law to strengthen legal protection of the personal rights of victims of domestic violence.

Judicial authorities have "put in place a system to exclude unlawful evidence and protect the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects," the paper said.

However, at the end, the paper issued by the State Council Information Office has mentioned that there are still several areas that need improvement.

"Strengthening judicial protection of human rights will continue to be a major task in implementing the rule of law.

"The country will proceed from its prevailing reality, learn from the achievements of other countries regarding the rule of law, enhance judicial protection of human rights, safeguard social fairness and justice, and implement the rule of law in all respects," the paper read.

The suggestions to improve legal procedures come as President Xi Jinping's government, citing a need to boost national security and stability, has tightened the grip over civil society.

According to a Reuters report dozens of lawyers and activists have been swept up in a crackdown on dissent since July last year, and many have been tried and convicted on subversion charges, which are commonly levelled against critics of the Communist Party.