Chinese authorities have issued a regulation that defines the responsibilities of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and state organs in handling petitions.
Party and state organs at all levels should put people's petitions on their agenda and keep updated accordingly, said the regulation released by the general offices of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.
Such agencies should ensure sufficient funding and personnel for dealing with petition letters and visits, and work to prevent and reduce conflicts that result in petitions, the regulation said.
The regulation applies to many institutions, including CPC organs, administrative bodies, legislative and judicial agencies, political advisory bodies and mass organizations.
Leading officials should take responsibilities for the handling of petitions that fall within their scope of duty, it said.
It also stipulated that leading officials at all levels should read and reply to mailed or online petition letters, receive visits from petitioners on a regular basis and help address the thorny issues revealed in petitioning.
Those working at the agencies should handle petitions in an impartial, clean and thoughtful manner, and be attentive to confidentiality, it said.
Moreover, the regulation highlighted supervision over the handling of petitions, stating that agencies at all levels should conduct at least one relevant annual inspection accordingly.
Punishment for officials who fail to handle petitions properly was also stressed in the regulation.
Officials should be held accountable if improper decision-making or neglect of duty cause major petition incidents or damage people's interests, said the regulation.
Senior supervisors should also be called to account and undertake joint liability if their subordinates harm other people's interests.
Penalties will vary from public criticism to demotion or removal from office, as determined by the damage caused by mishandling of the petitions, according to the regulation.
(Xinhua News Agency October 24, 2016)