22 February 2014

Lawyers Keep Pressure on Henan "Reprimand Centers"

Recently, the Chinese media have been shedding an unusual amount of light on some of the extrajudicial forms of detention that have proliferated to respond to various targets perceived to threaten stability. Following the elimination of the decades-old practice of “re-education through labor,” there seems to be a particular degree of vigilance—especially within Chinese public opinion—about preventing officials from being able to deprive citizens of their liberty arbitrarily and without due legal process. Exposure of a scheme in Henan to detain “abnormal” petitioners for mandatory reprimand led authorities there to back down and declare the reprimand centers illegal. (See this report in the South China Morning Post.)

For a group of 31 Chinese lawyers, the story does not end with the closure of these facilities—especially in light of a claim by one Henan law-enforcement official that the centers were a response to instructions delivered from higher authorities. This morning’s China Youth Daily reports that an “open government information” request has been submitted to the provincial government seeking answers to a wide range of questions (translated below) about how these reprimand centers came into being, how they were operated, and who will be held accountable.

  1. Who proposed that reprimand centers be sent up in Henan Province and when? What was the process for review and approval? What individual reprimand centers were set up?

  2. What agencies were responsible for review and approval and running the reprimand centers in Henan?

  3. Who proposed Henan’s 2009 “Regulations for Standardizing the Lawful Handling of Abnormal Petitioning in Beijing,” and what was the process for formulating those regulations? What management rules and documents existed for the reprimand centers (including the regulatory body and the regulatory methods)? What are the details concerning the financial allocations, facilities, and staffing for each reprimand center? What was the source of the funds for setting up the reprimand centers?

  4. What is the definition of “abnormal petitioning”? At present, how many citizens have been sent for reprimand, for what reasons, and for how long? During the reprimand period, what are the rights and duties of citizens who have been sent for reprimand and how were they treated?

  5. What remedies are currently available to citizens who have been sent for reprimand? What are the standards for state compensation for citizens who have been sent for reprimand?

  6. Which reprimand centers in Henan have been closed? How have individuals who violated laws and regulations been investigated and punished? If similar facilities appear in the future, how will Henan deal with them?
It will be worth watching to see whether they get any response to these questions and the extent to which authorities there are held accountable for measures like these, which are widespread throughout China.

No comments:

Post a Comment