Monday, April 30, 2007
The Washington Post reports as follows:
The 2008 Olympic Games have become a catalyst for more repression in China, not less, according to an Amnesty International report released today and aimed at pressuring the Beijing government a year before the start of the world's premier sporting event.
The 22-page report says China's illegal detention and imprisonment of activists and other measures have overshadowed some modest reforms, including how the Chinese legal system reviews death penalty cases and the loosening of some restrictions on the foreign press. The report marks the latest effort by human rights organizations and individuals to try to use the Olympics, and the international spotlight they place on China, to push for broader reforms. (Full story here.)
Saturday, April 28, 2007
The following is from Keith Hand, whose permission to re-post here is gratefully acknowledged.
Some of you may be interested in a sad but potentially influential story that is brewing here about the death of a judge in official custody. In late March, a county court judge from Guilin was detained by the local procuratorate on corruption charges. He entered the detention facility healthy, but died eleven days later. According to reports, the family of the judge was initially refused access to the body, but finally got a look and discovered severe injuries that indicated the judge had met a violent end. After being stonewalled in their efforts to get an explanation from local legal institutions, the family posted a story about the incident on the national web site of the court system. The story has been picked up by national media, with some articles raising the obvious possibility of a coerced confession/torture. The family is still waiting for an autopsy, and Guangxi has reportedly established an investigation group to look into the incident.
The case may turn out to be yet another depressing footnote in the ongoing saga of law enforcement abuse in China . But it bears the hallmarks of a series of incidents in recent years that have generated public outrage and created pressure for reforms in the criminal justice system. The interesting difference here is that the victim is an official. That fact seems to be cutting two ways. On the one hand, the case has attracted the interest of the judiciary. On the other hand, broader public reaction to the incident appears to be mixed. The Beijing News published a commentary yesterday in which the author denounced what were characterized as “more than a few” netizen comments along the lines of “Avaricious officials beaten to death – serves them right.”
Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law scheduled for next year are expected to focus in part on enhanced legal protections against torture. It will be interesting to keep an eye on how this story develops and whether it strengthens the hand of those arguing for more robust protections.
Links to some related materials below:
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Sunday, April 22, 2007
The April 18th issue of the New York Times carries a report that begins as follows:
A Chinese political prisoner and his wife sued Yahoo in federal court Wednesday, accusing the company of abetting the commission of torture by helping Chinese authorities identify political dissidents who were later beaten and imprisoned.
The suit, filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act, is believed to be the first of its kind against an Internet company for its activities in China.
For an in-depth discussion, with links to the complaint and to other relevant English and Chinese documents, check out Rebecca MacKinnon's blog posting.
Friday, April 20, 2007
I have received the following announcement:
The ABA's China Program is currently accepting applications for a Program Officer position in our Beijing office. Please see the announcement below for further details, and feel free to forward to anyone who might be interested.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
It's being reported that the Ministry of Culture is going to promulgate rules requiring singers and other entertainers to have a license in order to practice their profession.
Apparently the idea is meeting with some well-deserved ridicule in China. Of course, this doesn't mean it won't happen.
So far, none of the commentary I've seen has focused on the connection with the Administrative Licensing Law. As I read it (quickly), licensing of singers (for example) is permitted, if at all, only under Para. 3 of Article 12, which allows licensing of services where it is a public service that involves a profession or trade directly relating to public interests and where it is necessary to ascertain the existence of a qualifications or qualities such as special reputation, special conditions, or special skills
(提供公众服务并且直接关系公共利益的职业、行业，需要确定具备特殊信誉、特殊条件或者特殊技能等资格、资质的事项). Of course, "necessary" can mean anything you want it to mean. Still, this seems a bit of a stretch.