09 June 2009

Bad news for Liu Xiaobo, worse news for rule of law in China

According to this report from the BBC, police have informed Beijing lawyer Mo Shaoping that they intend to continue holding veteran dissident intellectual Liu Xiaobo (right) under "residential surveillance" while they continue their investigation into unspecified charges.

This is despite the fact that Chinese law clearly prohibits the police from holding Liu in this manner beyond the six-month period that has just elapsed. As I wrote elsewhere this week, the authorities had lots of other legal options at their disposal for continuing to keep Liu in custody, options that would have, however, carried the inconvenient requirement for them to at least provide Liu's wife with official notice of the charges against him and, in some circumstances, even allow Liu access to a lawyer.

Clearly, none of these options were preferable to the one in which the police simply ignore the law and do whatever they want. In fact, they've been in violation of the law from the beginning in this case with their decision to carry out his "residential surveillance" in what is most likely a police-affiliated guesthouse in the Beijing suburbs, rather than in Liu's actual residence.

This brazen contempt for the law on the part of China's police somehow still manages to surprise me, even after so many cases over all these years.

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