Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Shuanggui and extralegal detention in China

Flora Sapio of the Institute for Cultural Studies, Julius Maximilian University in Germany has just published an excellent article on shuanggui (双规), a form of extralegal detention by Party disciplinary bodies. The article is very well researched; she has found lots of relevant documents, many of which are probably not, strictly speaking, public.

Shuanggui poses a challenge to our understanding of the Chinese legal system. It is frankly admitted by just about everyone involved to be unlawful - in the Chinese system, all forms of detention must be authorized by law passed by the National People's Congress or its Standing Committee, and shuanggui has no such authorization. Yet it is open - the existence of the system itself is not a state secret - and pervasive. Thus, it cannot be dismissed as a mere aberration; a proper understanding of the system has to account for shuanggui as a constitutive element, not a mistake.

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