China announces prison reforms to improve conditions in jails

Beijing, In a bid to address criticism over labour camps and poor conditions in jails, China today announced prison reforms and other measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of detainees.

An official White Paper tiled "New Progress in the Judicial Protection of Human Rights in China", said the country will enhance scrutiny of supervisory activities and the execution of punishment, standardise commutation, parole, and execution of sentence outside prison.

The country will stipulate that criminal defendants and appellants no longer need to wear clothing bearing the name of the detention house, so as to safeguard the detainees' personal dignity, safety, legal property, and legitimate rights including the rights to defence, to appeal, to complain, and to report violations of law, the white paper said.

By the end of 2015, psychological counseling rooms had been built in 2,169 detention houses in China, and 2,207 detention houses had provided two-way video via the internet for those who serve their term of imprisonment in the detention houses, the white paper said.

It added that medical services and life management in prisons and detention houses will be standardised in a bid to safeguard detainees' right to health, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The country will also standardise commutation, parole and execution of sentence outside prison and safeguard detainees' rights to implementation of penalty change, the white paper said.

Officials say over the years Chinese prison system is undergoing reforms.

Since, last year's China has banned the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners for organ transplants and ordered all hospitals stop using organs from death-row prisoners.

The ban came amid criticism over the high rate of executions to cater to the heavy demand for organs.

Ahead of the ban China also removed a number of economic offences from the category of death sentence as part of its
judicial reforms which brought down the number of executions.