(New York) - China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) should adopt reforms in 10 areas to strengthen human rights protections, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today. The congress, which meets annually and is attended by more than 3,000 delegates, is meeting through March 15.

“Chinese leaders have committed themselves to promoting social justice, ensuring freedom of expression, and building the rule of law, but only concrete reforms will bring real change,” said Sophie Richardson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The steps proposed by Human Rights Watch include:

  • Ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  • Allowing nongovernmental organizations to register freely;
  • Ending repression of activists, petitioners and lawyers;
  • Narrowing the scope of application for state secrets laws;
  • Reversing the practice of censoring the internet and the media; and
  • Abolishing rather than reforming re-education-through-labor.

“If the congress adopts these reforms, it will show that China deserves to be on the UN Human Rights Council, and to host the Olympics,” said Richardson.