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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Passes Rights Act

BEIJING () -- Upstaged by military activities and tensions in the Taiwan Strait, the National People's Congress on Sunday approved major reforms in China's criminal justice system that would mark a significant human rights advance -- if put into practice.

The reforms, overwhelmingly approved during the closing session of the congress, for the first time establish the presumption of innocence for criminal defendants, set a limit of 30 days in which police can hold suspects without formally charging them, and give defendants the right to consult a lawyer.

The chairman of the congress, Qiao Shi, hailed the reforms, slated to take effect Jan. 1, 1997, as a step toward the establishment of "rule of law and development of a socialist legal system.''