Archive for ‘Justice’

09/03/2014

* With legal reforms, China wants less interfering in cases, fewer death penalty crimes | Reuters

China has curtailed the power of the ruling Communist Party’s Political and Legal Committee, a secretive body overseeing the security services, to interfere in most legal cases, scholars with knowledge of the situation said – a significant reform at a time of public discontent over miscarriages of justice.

Zhou Qiang, President of China's Supreme People's Court, attends National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

The move, which has not been made public by the party but has been announced in internal meetings, would clip the wings of the party’s highest authority on judicial and security matters.

Interference from the committee has led to many wrongful convictions, many of which have been widely reported in the press and even highlighted by President Xi Jinping as an issue that needs to be urgently addressed.

Part of a package of legal reforms, the move signals a willingness by Xi’s government to reform its court system as long as it doesn’t threaten the party’s overall control.

China’s highest court, the Supreme People’s Court, will delivers its work report to parliament on Monday, which could detail some of these reforms.

But the party would still have final say over politically sensitive cases such as those involving ethnic issues and senior politicians – like the disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, who was last year found guilty of bribery, corruption and abuse of power, and jailed for life – and would use the courts to convict citizens who challenge its authority.

via With legal reforms, China wants less interfering in cases, fewer death penalty crimes | Reuters.

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13/12/2013

Nanjing Massacre memorials to be held |Society |chinadaily.com.cn

A man is pictured in front of a wall at the memorial hall of the victims in Nanjing massacre by Japanese invaders in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, Dec 12, 2013. Nanjing Massacre memorials to be held

NANJING – A series of memorials will be held on Thursday and Friday in the city of Nanjing to mark the 76th anniversary of a massacre that claimed the lives of 300,000 Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers.

Nanjing witnessed mass murder, genocide and war rape following the Japanese capture of the city in December 13, 1937, during World War II.

Memorial events will include a candlelight vigil, a prayer assembly for peace, as well as press conferences and seminars, according to Zhu Chengshan, curator of the Nanjing Massacre Hall.

As part of this year\’s event, a report on protection of survivors\’ oral histories of the atrocity will be presented and a Sino-U.S. collaborative project on oral history studies will be announced, Zhu announced.

\”This is about expressing sorrow for those perished, and more importantly reminding people to remember history and to cherish peace,\” he said.

Meanwhile, two survivors, 82-year-old Wang Jin and 89-year-old Cen Honggui, will leave for Japan to attend Nanjing Massacre testimony gatherings on invitation from Japanese non-governmental organizations.

Held every year since August, 1994, this activity has seen a total of 47 Chine

via Nanjing Massacre memorials to be held |Society |chinadaily.com.cn.

11/09/2013

Guangzhou to empty labour camps

SCMP: “Guangzhou plans to empty its hard-labour camps by year’s end, state media reported yesterday, the latest locality to phase out the notorious punishment.

china_labour_camp.jpg

Rights advocates have long complained that the “re-education through labour“, or laojiao, system which lets police send suspects to work camps for up to four years without trial, is widely abused to silence dissidents, petitioners and other perceived troublemakers.

In March, newly installed Premier Li Keqiang promised nationwide reforms to the system this year, but concrete steps have yet to be announced. In the meantime, some cities or provinces have been moving away from the punishment.

“All [100 or so] detainees in Guangzhou labour camps will have completed their sentences and be released by the end of the year,” the China Daily reported, citing a senior judge in the city. Guangdong province stopped taking new re-education through labour cases in March, it said.

In February, Yunnan said it would no longer send people to labour camps for three types of political offences.

Four cities designated as testing grounds have replaced the system with an “illegal behaviour rectification through education” programme, domestic media said at the time.

The forced labour system was established under Mao Zedong in the 1950s as a way to contain “class enemies”. A 2009 UN report estimated that 190,000 mainlanders were locked up labour camps.

Calls to scrap the system grew last year after the media exposed the plight of Ren Jianyu , a former official who spent 15 months in a Chongqing labour camp for reposting criticisms of the government on his microblog.”

via Guangzhou to empty labour camps: state media | South China Morning Post.

See also: http://chindia-alert.org/2013/01/07/china-turns-dark-page-of-history-puts-end-to-labour-camps/

29/08/2013

Bo Xilai on trial: Settling scores

The Economist: “IN A heavily guarded courthouse in the eastern city of Jinan, the trial began on August 22nd of a politician who was once one of China’s most powerful figures. Bo Xilai, who is 64, has been accused of receiving bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power. His downfall in March 2012 caused the greatest political shock of its kind in decades.

That the trial is under way at last is a sign that Xi Jinping, who took over as China’s leader eight months after Mr Bo disappeared from public view, is confident that he can handle its ramifications. Mr Bo, like Mr Xi, is the son of one of Mao Zedong’s fellow revolutionaries. He remains popular in the parts of China where he has served, including as Communist Party chief in the 29m-strong region of Chongqing in the south-west. He is an icon of diehard Maoists and members of the “new left” who decry China’s move towards money making. Handling Mr Bo’s case without upsetting powerful families and arousing public ire (whether of Mr Bo’s fans or of the many Chinese who are aggrieved at widespread official corruption) has been Mr Xi’s challenge. As the trial began, dozens of supporters gathered nearby. Police dragged several away.

Mr Xi and his colleagues wished to choreograph the proceedings—which at the time of going to press were expected to last just a day or two—with great precision. But Mr Bo, with a characteristic feistiness, queered the pitch from the outset. He denied a charge of bribery involving payments of more than 1.1m yuan ($180,000) from a businessman in the north-eastern city of Dalian. His response to the other charges, including millions of dollars in other kickbacks, are not yet known. Foreign journalists were barred from the trial.

The allegations, even if disagreeable to Mr Bo, would have been tailored to suit all factions—including, to some extent, his own, for Mr Bo had powerful backers, including within the security forces. Speculation has also centred on whether the state tried to secure Mr Bo’s co-operation by promising not to go after his 25-year-old son, Bo Guagua, who was expensively educated in Britain and is now studying in America. The younger Mr Bo may hope one day to to avenge his father’s downfall.

via Bo Xilai on trial: Settling scores | The Economist.

23/08/2013

In Bo Xilai Trial, Some See Positive Signs for Legal System

WSJ: “Many China watchers see the trial of Communist Party insider Bo Xilai as scripted and staged, unveiling flaws of a closed Chinese judicial system. Yet amid the criticism, some are seeing positive signs emerge from Jinan, the northeastern Chinese city in Shandong province where Mr. Bo is facing corruption charges, including allegations that he took bribes with the aid of his wife.

The following are opinions of legal experts who have been following the trial:

Many Western critics of the Bo trial are comparing it to the stage-managed show trials of China’s past, including Jiang Qing [the wife of Mao Zedong] and victims of the Cultural Revolution. But this criticism misses the point. The Bo trial is exactly 180 degrees different in nature. In the show trials of China’s past, the politics would drive the criminal prosecution. In other words, the target would fall out of favor politically and then be legally persecuted as a result. In this trial, we have the opposite: the criminal prosecution is driving the politics. A towering and influential figure is being prosecuted in spite of his political influence, and the trial is driven primarily by the criminal allegations against him. Instead of being accused of serious crimes because his political standing has collapsed, his political standing has collapsed because he has been accused of serious crimes. –Geoffrey Sant, adjunct professor at Fordham Law School and special counsel at Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Despite the degree of supervision provided for the trial, there are nevertheless grounds for opening up the administration of justice to the supervision of the people. We’ve seen that in China there are many cases and trials that are not open, that attendance is constrained. Yet leaders have shown that they are willing to open up this case—to a certain extent—to the media, creating the perception that they are moving toward creating a more accessible judicial system.

Leaders are going farther than they could have to make the trial available. It’s a show trial, but not all trials are for show in China. To the extent that openness reveals shortcomings of the judicial system and promotes civil liberties is a positive thing. –Lester Ross a Beijing-based attorney with U.S. law firm WilmerHale.”

via In Bo Xilai Trial, Some See Positive Signs for Legal System – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

20/07/2013

China officials held over watermelon-seller death

BBC : “Six urban security personnel have been detained by police investigating the death of a fruit seller in southern China, state media say.

Local residents demonstrate with a banner saying "urban enforcers (chengguan) killed people" in Linwu county, central China's Hunan province, 17 July 2013

Deng Zhengjia, in his 50s, died on Wednesday in Chenzhou City, Hunan.

He was hit with a weight from a set of scales after a row erupted with the officials, known as “chengguan”, Xinhua reported, citing Mr Deng’s niece.

The six are being held on suspicion of intentionally harming others, added the news agency.

 

The row in Linwu county, Chenzhou, erupted after Mr Deng, 56, and his wife tried to sell home-grown watermelons at a scenic riverside spot without a licence, the county government said in a statement.

Having asked the couple to leave, “the enforcers temporarily confiscated four of the watermelons, requesting that the couple sell their melons in an authorised location instead”.

The couple began “insulting” the officers when they encountered them again 50 minutes later, the statement said.

“The enforcers tried to reason with the couple, the dispute between the two sides became a physical conflict, and in the process Deng Zhengjia suddenly collapsed and died,” it added.

There were anti-chengguan protests in Linwu on Wednesday, and the fruit seller’s death has also sparked outrage on China’s microblogs.

In July 2011, the death of a disabled street vendor who was reportedly beaten by local law enforcers sparked a riot in Guizhou province.

Who are the chengguan?

Urban law enforcers tasked with enforcing ”non-criminal administrative regulations” such as traffic, environment and sanitation rules

Chengguan operate separately from the police

They are employed by the Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureaux of their individual cities

Critics call them “violent government thugs”

Reports that a disabled street vendor was beaten to death by chengguan in 2011 sparked riots in China’s Guizhou province

There are thousands of chengguan in at least 656 cities across China, Human Rights Watch says

The chengguan, or Urban Management Law Enforcement force, support the police in tackling low-level crime in cities and have become unpopular with the Chinese public after a series of high-profile violent incidents.

“They are now synonymous for many Chinese citizens with physical violence, illegal detention and theft,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a report last year.

via BBC News – China officials held over watermelon-seller death.

19/07/2013

Probe over China fruit-seller ‘beaten by enforcers’

BBC: “Police are investigating the death of a fruit seller in China, state media say, amid reports he was beaten by “chengguan” urban security personnel.

Local residents demonstrate with a banner saying "urban enforcers (chengguan) killed people" in Linwu county, central China's Hunan province, 17 July 2013

Deng Zhengjia, in his 50s, died on Wednesday in Chenzhou City, Hunan.

He was hit with a weight from a set of scales after a row erupted with chengguan officials, Xinhua news agency said, citing Mr Deng’s niece.

Chengguan are unpopular with the Chinese public after a series of high-profile violent incidents.

The chengguan, or Urban Management Law Enforcement force, support the police in tackling low-level crime in cities.

But the force’s ”thuggish” behaviour had led to public anger and undermined stability, a report by Human Rights Watch said last year.

“They are now synonymous for many Chinese citizens with physical violence, illegal detention and theft,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), when the report was released in May 2012.

via BBC News – Probe over China fruit-seller ‘beaten by enforcers’.

26/05/2013

* Sonia Gandhi ‘devastated’ by India Chhattisgarh ambush

BBC: “The president of India’s Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, has said she is “devastated” by Saturday’s attack on party officials in Chhattisgarh state.

Sonia Gandhi (R) and PM Manmohan Singh in a hospital in Raipur (May 26 2013)

At least 24 people were killed, including Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nandkumar Patel, his son, and local leader Mahendra Karma, when suspected Maoist rebels ambushed their convoy.

Mrs Gandhi visited some of the wounded with PM Manmohan Singh on Sunday.

The prime minister said India would “never bow down” before the rebels.

He denounced the “barbaric attack” which he said should be an inspiration in the fight against extremism and violence.

Unconfirmed reports said they were unable to visit the scene of the attack because of security concerns.”

via BBC News – Sonia Gandhi ‘devastated’ by India Chhattisgarh ambush.

See also: http://chindia-alert.org/political-factors/indian-tensions/

14/05/2013

* China issues white paper on human rights

China Daily: “The Chinese government on Tuesday released a white paper detailing the progress made in human rights in 2012, stressing its achievements in improving living standards and increasing room for citizens to express their opinions.

Human Rights in China (organization)

Human Rights in China (organization) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The cause of human rights in China has entered a stage of planned, sustainable, steady and comprehensive development,” says the white paper, published by the State Council Information Office under the title “Progress in China’s Human Rights in 2012.”

Development is the key to solving all existing problems and facilitating the progress of human rights in China, the paper says.

China has combined its human rights endeavors with economic, political, cultural, social and ecological construction, it said.

The country has prioritized people’s rights to subsistence and development and made efforts to promote the comprehensive and balanced development of their economic, social and cultural rights, as well as their civil and political rights, it notes.

“After years of unremitting efforts, China has reached a higher level in terms of people’s living standards, democracy, rule of law, cultural development, social security and environmental protection,” says the white paper.

In 2012, the annual per capita net income for both urban and rural residents increased, hefty investment was directed to poverty reduction programs, housing conditions were improved for both urban and rural residents and the state made proactive efforts to boost employment, according to the white paper.

Practical measures have been taken to ensure citizens’ right to know and right to be heard, according to the white paper.

Deepened reform and the rapid development of information technology have given the public greater power to acquire information and express their opinions, it notes.

The creation of the Regulations on Government Information Disclosure has helped establish a system for disclosing information, the white paper says.

In 2012, more than 90 central government departments made their budgets and expenses for official receptions, vehicles and overseas trips known to the public. The Communist Party of China (CPC) continued to press ahead with making Party affairs public and established a spokesperson system for Party committees, the paper says.

The Internet has become an important channel for citizens to exercise their rights to know, participate, be heard and supervise, as well as become an important means for the government to hear public opinions, according to the white paper.

Democracy building at the grassroots level further expanded citizens’ right to participate, the paper says.

By the end of 2012, direct elections had been held for over 98 percent of village committees across the country, with participation reaching 95 percent.”

via China issues white paper on human rights |Politics |chinadaily.com.cn.

08/05/2013

* Detention of petitioners denounced

China Daily: “Anti-graft officials vow protection of whistle-blowers from retaliation

Officials with China’s top anti-graft authority expressed firm opposition on Tuesday to the detention of petitioners.

Authorities are not allowed to detain petitioners at any level of petition offices and at public venues, said Zhang Shaolong, deputy director of the office of letters and calls of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China.

It is a legal channel for petitioners to submit whistle-blowing materials face to face to the anti-graft authorities, and the petitioners should receive a warm welcome from anti-corruption agencies, he said.

Zhang made the remarks on Tuesday during an online interview with two other anti-graft officials from the commission.

Under the administrative mechanism in most places, the leading officials will not get promoted if too many petitioners appeal to higher authorities.

Many corrupt officials were exposed by online posts, Zhang said, adding that some inaccurate online information has also made the investigations of corrupt officials difficult.

Among all the cases investigated by the commission last year, about 41.8 percent of the clues were collected from the public whistle-blowers through online reports, letters and calls, Zhang said.

Guo Hongliang, Zhang’s colleague who also attended the online interview, said that the commission has received 301,000 online whistle-blowing reports from 2008 to 2012.

The commission established 12388.gov.cn, its online whistle-blowing website, in October 2009, and the Internet has become one of the most important channels for the commission to collect information, he said.

Deng Jixun, another colleague of Zhang who attended the interview, said that real-name whistle-blowing activities should be encouraged to promote the efficiency of anti-corruption work.

The anti-graft authorities should protect real-name whistle-blowers from being victims of retaliation, he said.

Zhang acknowledged that some officials try to prevent people from petitioning to higher levels of government, and these officials’ behavior should be firmly opposed.

A report in People’s Daily revealed that many petitioners had been detained by the government of Hai’an county in Jiangsu province since March when they tried to visit the anti-graft officials from an inspection team sent by the provincial government.”

via Detention of petitioners denounced |Politics |chinadaily.com.cn.

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