November 21, 2008
China's Andy Rooney on the Chinese legal system
November 19, 2008
More reports of violence by "urban management" (城管) officials
The "urban management" (城管) (UM) authorities have been in the news (and not in a good way) many times over the past several years. UM is a branch of municipal government established to deal in a forceful way with unlicensed peddlers and other blights on the urban landscape - sort of like the Administration of Industry and Commerce with truncheons. The latest outrage is reported by ChinaSMACK here; previous incidents are rounded up by the China Digital Times here.
UM is interesting because of its only quasi-legal status - a status that's especially dicey given the extra desirability of a sound legal basis when you are authorizing people to beat up other people. I'm told that UM operates on an eat-what-you-kill basis, meaning they don't get funding, but can keep what they fine and confiscate.
The shakiness of UM's legal status is further shown by the case of Cui Yingjie (崔英杰), an ex-soldier who killed a UM officer in a dispute. His legal team based their defense among other things on an argument (apparently irrefutable in its factual premises, although not necessarily relevant) that the whole UM system lacked a proper legal basis for its powers: there was no appropriate authorization from the State Council and other problems. After behind-the-scenes negotiations, his lawyers agreed not to press this argument in exchange for a suspended death sentence (such sentences are typically commuted after the two-year suspension period). This would explain the somewhat miraculous outcome in this case: the killer of a quasi-official immediately labeled a "revolutionary martyr" after his death by the municipal Party secretary managed to escape execution.
China and the UN Committee Against Torture
Here's an update on the latest developments, with links to other stories, from the China Digital Times.
Call for Papers: Asian Society of International Law
I have been asked to post the following announcement:
Call for papers: Second Biennial General Conference of the Asian Society of
International Law (Tokyo, 1-2 August 2009)
The Second Biennial General Conference of the Asian Society of International
Law (following its inaugural conference in Singapore in 2007) will take up
the important issue of Asia's relationship with the international legal
order under the main theme of "International Law in a Multi-polar and
Multi-civilizational World - Asian Perspectives, Challenges and
Contributions." The Organizing Committee cordially invites paper proposals
and/or submissions for the event which will be held on 1-2 August 2009 at
the University of Tokyo, Japan. The deadline for panel proposals is 31
December 2008; the deadline for papers for "regular" panels is 31 January
2009; and the deadline for discussant papers in the plenary session and
agorae papers is 28 February 2009.
Please visit the following website for details of the Tokyo Conference 2009.
November 16, 2008
Jerome Cohen on civil liberties in Taiwan
Here's an interesting op-ed piece by Jerome Cohen on developing civil liberties problems in Taiwan, posted here with the author's permission.