November 5, 2005
Political abuse of psychiatry
After 13 years in the Ankang (安康) system of psychiatric facilities operated by the Ministry of Public Security, Wang Wanxing was released last August and immediately exiled to Germany. This news came from Human Rights Watch on November 2. As the Human Rights Watch press release (well worth reading in its entirety) states, "Wang Wanxing is the first known released inmate of China's notorious Ankang system, out of an estimated 3,000 or more political detainees held in police-run psychiatric custody since the early 1980s, to have left China and be in a position to speak out about his experiences."
Wang's release is not, however, our first look into the Ankang system. Robin Munro has been working this territory for some time now, and in 2002 published Dangerous Minds: Political Psychiatry in China Today and Its Origins in the Mao Era (reviewed in the New York Review of Books by Jonathan Mirsky). An earlier article containing his research is "Judicial Psychiatry in China and Its Political Abuses," Journal of Asian Law, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Fall 2000). The most thorough and up-to-date study that I know of is Dr. Munro's University of London PhD dissertation (Department of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, Jan. 2005).
November 3, 2005
Jerome Cohen continues to press Chinese government on Chen Guangcheng case
The Financial Times reports today that Jerome Cohen, in a talk to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, continued to press the central government to do something about the ongoing unlawful confinement and harrassment of blind activist Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚). The article states in part:
“This is a daily shame to the People’s Republic of China,” Prof Cohen told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China in a briefing.
“It’s not enough to make nice speeches about the importance of strengthening the rule of law and it’s not enough to have internal reforms within the ministry and various public security bureaux, you have got to come to grips with concrete cases,” he said.
Zhou Yongkang, public security minister, should “pick up the phone” and call the local police chief to tell him to stop the abuse, Prof Cohen said.
An official with the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing declined to comment yesterday on Mr Chen’s situation and Shandong police did not respond to questions on the case.
For information on Chen in Chinese, click here.
November 2, 2005
November issue of CECC newsletter now available
November 1, 2005
Call for public interest environmental lawsuits
On Oct. 28, 2005, Song Jian (宋健), the chairman of the China Environmental Protection Association (中华环保联合会), called for the establishment of a system of public interest environmental protection lawsuits. In this system, any citizen, social group, or governmental agency would have standing. What's interesting is the proposed defendant: state judicial organs (国家司法机关). If his remarks were not misreported, it's not clear to me what he has in mind. It would not be surprising for such a system to grant a private right of action against actual polluters, or against the central Environmental Protection Administration or its local branches. But the latter is not normally considered a "judicial organ". Judicial organs such as courts and police would not be involved in environmental law matters until it came time to enforce a fine or other measure against a recalcitrant offender. Does Song contemplate public interest lawsuits only when such enforcement actions are not properly undertaken?
October 30, 2005
China ratifies United Nations Convention Against Corruption
The NPC Standing Committee on Oct. 27th ratified China's accession to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. As it is permitted to do, however, China declared itself not bound by Art. 66, Para. 2 of the Convention. The full text of Art. 66 is as follows:
Settlement of disputes
l. States Parties shall endeavour to settle disputes concerning the
interpretation or application of this Convention through negotiation.
2. Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the
interpretation or application of this Convention that cannot be settled through
negotiation within a reasonable time shall, at the request of one of those States
Parties, be submitted to arbitration. If, six months after the date of the request for
arbitration, those States Parties are unable to agree on the organization of the
arbitration, any one of those States Parties may refer the dispute to the International
Court of Justice by request in accordance with the Statute of the Court.
3. Each State Party may, at the time of signature, ratification, acceptance or
approval of or accession to this Convention, declare that it does not consider itself
bound by paragraph 2 of this article. The other States Parties shall not be bound by
paragraph 2 of this article with respect to any State Party that has made such a
4. Any State Party that has made a reservation in accordance with
paragraph 3 of this article may at any time withdraw that reservation by notification
to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.