Review of rights pact next week
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress will start examining the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Monday, Xinhua reported yesterday.
It will be the third time the lawmaking body has examined the treaty - one of the two international human rights treaties China has signed but not yet ratified. Chinese leaders told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last month that China was prepared to ratify the treaty. However, rights lobbyists cautioned that the Government would still maintain restrictions on independent trade unions even if the treaty was ratified by the NPC.
China signed the economic and social covenant in 1997 and followed it with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights a year later. So far, Chinese officials have not said publicly when Beijing will ratify the political rights covenant, which is generally considered to offer ordinary citizens greater civil rights protection.