Administrative appeal process still a mystery

Updated: 2013-12-24 20:17


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Most people don't know how to resort to the process of administrative reconsideration to claim their rights when having disputes with the government, according to the nation's top legislature.

According to a law passed in 1999, citizens who disagree with a local government decision or policy that affects them can appeal to a higher level of government to have their case reconsidered — a process known as administrative reconsideration.

However, in a questionnaire conducted by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, 60 percent of the 4,351 people surveyed said that they knew little or nothing about the process, according to a report released by the committee on Monday.

The questionnaire is part of a larger inspection process recently completed to assess the enforcement of the Administrative Reconsideration Law.

In September and October, the NPC Standing Committee dispatched inspection teams to six provinces to supervise the enforcement of the law. It was the first such inspection since the law was enacted 14 years ago.

The administrative agencies have reconsidered 1.01 million cases in the past 14 years, and about 35 percent of these have been rectified, according to the report.

Wang Shengjun, vice-chairman of the NPC, said at a conference on Monday that many people don't trust the government to apply the reconsideration process properly and fairly.

He also said that members of the public have to wait for months to have their cases reconsidered due to the low efficiency in government departments.

Under current regulations, if the people are not satisfied with the activities of government agencies, they can appeal for reconsideration at a higher-level administrative body.

A typical example would be a farmer who is forced by the township government to sell his land but disagrees with the price given. Such a farmer can, in theory, appeal to officials at the county government through the administrative reconsideration process, in the hope of getting what he feels is a fairer price.

However, according to the report from the NPC Standing Committee inspection, many parts of the country do not have sufficient resources to implement the process effectively.

About 38.2 percent of county governments don't have reconsideration agencies, and each county government has less than one worker on average to take charge of the public's reconsideration requests, according to the report.

Among the 1,407 counties inspected, 277 county governments have not accepted any reconsideration cases in the past year, despite the fact that there are hundreds of petitioned cases in most county governments every year, the report said.

Ma Huaide, vice-president of China University of Political Science and Law, said that many people would rather petition than resort to reconsideration when in dispute with the government because petitioning means their difficulties might be heard by senior officials who are likely to help them resolve the problems.

However, reconsideration should be the first choice for the public because it is easier in terms procedures and free of charge, he said.

To ensure justice during the reconsideration process, the governments of eight provinces and municipalities, including Jiangsu and Beijing, have started a pilot project to invite experts to join the reconsideration board.

In the pilot project, more than 50 percent of people on the reconsideration board are scholars from universities rather than government officials, a fact that could prevent officials from shielding each other, the People's Daily reported last week.