(Feb. 2, 2008) On January 1, 2008, several legal scholars in China urged the State Council (Cabinet) to speed the process for the country's ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) before the upcoming summer Olympic Games in Beijing, by submitting the document to the National People's Congress (NPC) before the NPC's annual meeting in March. China signed the ICCPR on October 5, 1998; as of January 2008, it has 160 parties (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights New York, 16 December 1966, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Web site, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/4.htm (last visited Jan. 28, 2008)). China has already ratified the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (on March 27, 2001) (ICESCR), which, along with the ICCPR and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is a key component of the International Bill of Human Rights (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights New York 16 December 1966, OHCHR Web site, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/3.htm (last visited Jan. 28, 2008)) (the United States has not yet ratified the ICESCR).
According to the Chinese newspaper NANFANG ZHOUMO [SOUTHERN WEEKEND], insiders contend that the ICCPR legislation has been planned for a long time, but the authorities concerned have been resistant to changing or doing away with measures that effectively infringe on personal freedom and legal protection – core issues (in particular freedom of movement and of expression) addressed by the ICCPR – and have also postponed revision of the Criminal Procedure Law. As a result, "[i]t remains uncertain whether or not the fundamental elements demanded by the covenant, such as the right to remain silent and the rule of excluding illegally obtained evidence, will be realized through the amendment procedure." (PRC Law Experts Call for Ratification of International Covenant on Rights, NANFANG ZHOUMO, Jan. 10, 2008, Open Source Center No. CPP20080113530005.)