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Anti-terrorism laws protect human rights

By Li Mengyang | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-24 08:59

Performers dance at the grand bazaar in Urumqi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, January 23, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

The just-concluded Munich Security Conference once again raised accusations about so-called human rights problems in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

However, China's moves to protect Xinjiang's security and stability, which lay the foundation for the region's development and improvement of people's livelihood, are strong steps to protect human rights.

To begin with, China has improved its legal system so it can better deal with terrorism cases in order to safeguard its national security, protect human rights and maintain social stability through legal, just and fair means. It has also introduced substantive laws and improved procedural laws.

Counter-terrorism laws and regulations, encompassing administrative regulations, judicial interpretations and local regulations, have been incorporated in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, with the Anti-Terrorism Law being the core and the Criminal Law the pillar, supplemented by the national security law and other laws and regulations.

The counter-terrorism laws and regulations contain not only substantive law provisions, such as the definition of terrorist acts and counter-terrorism measures, but also procedural law regulations to ensure the legality and procedural nature of counter-terrorism measures.

China's counter-terrorism laws have been revised many times to adapt to the changing national security situation, giving rise to measures such as the Provisions on Ecological Governance of Network Information Content and the Interim Measures for the Administration of Generative Artificial Intelligence Services.

China attaches great importance to human rights protection. As a result, the Anti-Terrorism Law includes clauses that ensure counter-terrorism measures comply with the law, respect and protect human rights, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of individuals and organizations.

China's anti-terrorism laws not only safeguard national security but also protect people's lives, their property rights and other basic human rights, reflecting the spirit of the rule of law and the essence of human rights. The Anti-Terrorism Law protects the basic rights of all citizens, including individual freedom, individual dignity, the right to defense and other legitimate rights of defendants, suspects and criminals.

Thanks to the Anti-Terrorism Law, the people's courts ensure counter-terrorism activities do not violate human rights. The courts adhere to the principle of delivering judgment in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Law based on facts, the character of the suspect and the circumstances under which the terrorist act was committed, and the degree of harm caused to society.

In practice, China has been exploring ways to better balance human rights protection and counter-terrorism laws and measures, in a bid to strengthen the rule of law.

In addition to domestic governance, China also shoulders global responsibilities and has been fulfilling its international counter-terrorism commitments, and strengthening cooperation with other countries and international organizations to jointly combat international terrorism.

There is a broad consensus in the international community that the purpose of counter-terrorism legislation is to prevent and combat terrorist activities, safeguard national security, protect citizens' lives and property and, in the process, protect and promote human rights. China has strived to ensure the Anti-Terrorism Law conforms to international norms in terms of legislative goals and basic principles.

But given the present global context, different countries view and define terrorism, religious extremism and separatism differently due to the differences in their culture, history, and political systems. As a result, the anti-terrorism laws are different in different countries.

With in-depth study and analysis of the root causes of terrorism, China has realized that terrorism is not only a legal issue but also, at a deeper level, a social issue, and the international community needs to work together to address these root causes through political, economic and social measures.

Nonetheless, China has learned lessons from the other countries' experiences of taking counter-terrorism measures. Hence, it attaches equal importance to combating terrorist activities, safeguarding national security, maintaining social stability, and protecting and promoting human rights.

The author is an associate professor at the Law School of Xinjiang University. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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