By some measures, China has made meaningful strides in its criminal justice and penal systems by adopting and enforcing laws that better protect the human rights of its citizens. Concerns of rights defenders and legal experts, such as the torture of detainees and the world’s most extensive use of capital punishment, are being addressed in China, if only in degrees. While acknowledging progress, activists seek further reforms where unlawful or controversial practices are still pervasive, as with the lack of due process for court proceedings and the hotly debated issue of arbitrary detention.
Being incarcerated is hard, but being incarcerated abroad is even harder. Foreign inmates face linguistic and cultural barriers and an unfamiliar legal system. Under such circumstances, detainees look to their government for advice and assistance, assistance that is protected by consular conventions.
Eddy Zheng works for the Community Youth Center in San Francisco as the Project Manager overseeing the street outreach and intervention components to reduce violence, and heads the Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC). He shares his experiences with young people about the importance of education, self-respect, individual responsibility, and community awareness.
On June 16, a county court in Hubei Province held a criminal trial in a case that for weeks had been the focus of considerable attention and controversy throughout China. On the docket was the case of a 21-year-old hotel waitress named Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇), alleged to have stabbed a local county official to death during a struggle that reportedly began when the official demanded sex from her. On the Internet—in blogs, chat rooms, and bulletin board posts—people rallied to Deng’s support, scrutinizing every move of police investigators for hints of a cover-up and demanding that she receive a fair trial.
Dui Hua recently received updates on several long-serving prisoners in Shanghai, including two who were separately sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for engaging in counterrevolutionary activities. The details of their cases are similar in some respects, but their fates have been quite different.
Spring trip covers North American stops; Wayne Tuan steps down from board; Dui Hua launches e-newsletter, Facebook fan page.