New Direction, Expanded Focus

Ten years after its first annual meeting, Dui Hua’s Board of Directors returned to La Jolla, California to hold its yearly gathering in August 2011. The board reviewed the achievements and challenges of the past 12 months and set a new strategic direction that combines the traditional focus on achieving clemency for political prisoners with more robust efforts on behalf of juvenile offenders and women in prison.

Highlighting the organization’s humanitarian nature, the board adopted a new logo, tagline, and mission statement:

Dui Hua is a nonprofit humanitarian organization that brings clemency and better treatment to at-risk detainees through promotion of universally recognized human rights in well-informed, mutually respectful dialogue with China. Focusing on political and religious prisoners, juvenile justice, women in prison, and issues in criminal justice, our work rests on the premise that positive change is realized through constructive relationships and exchange.


China Trip

The Supreme People’s Court. Photo credit: CFP

Dui Hua Executive Director John Kamm made his third trip to China this year, spending two weeks in Beijing and Hong Kong. Dui Hua’s Hong Kong-based publications officer, Megan Ko, joined Kamm in Beijing to attend meetings, visit bookshops and libraries, and collect materials on juvenile offenders and women in prison.

At a lunch hosted by Qi Xiaoxia, the special representative for human rights dialogues at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Kamm introduced the MFA to Dui Hua’s new mission and burgeoning initiatives and discussed political prisoners and legal reform. Individuals serving sentences for endangering state security were discussed, with an emphasis on those with serious health concerns. Proposed revisions to the Criminal Procedure Law (see Separate and Unequal: CPL Revision and Treatment of Political Prisoners in China’s Dual-track Justice System) garnered lively debate over controversial rules for residential surveillance and less-noted changes regarding juveniles, women, mental-health assessments, and bail.

Kamm held two meetings with the Supreme People’s Court to push forward cooperation on juvenile justice and to initiate discussion to promote implementation the Bangkok Rules(see From Fighting Domestic Violence to Advancing the Bangkok Rules, and Bangkok Rules Address the Plight of Women in Prison) to improve the treatment of women in prison.). Other meetings were held with a legal reformer working to increase the use of bail and Professor Wang Jisi, one of China’s leading experts on international affairs and US-China relations.

The trip also included fruitful talks with diplomats, journalists, and scholars based in China’s capital. Kamm met with ambassadors from the United States, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, and with staff working on human rights at more than a dozen embassies.

Ambassador Locke mentions human rights at Beijing Foreign Studies University, September 9, 2011. Photo credit: US Embassy

Meeting with the US ambassador, Kamm learned that, although he is best known for increasing trade with China as US commerce secretary and Washington state governor, Ambassador Gary Locke is committed to engaging China on human rights. Shortly after taking up his new post in August, Locke insisted on visiting American geologist Xue Feng, showing his willingness to pursue sensitive cases. Xue is one of only two American citizens serving prison sentences in China for endangering state security. The embassy indicated that Xue is in good spirits and being treated well by prison authorities.


On the Road Again

Dui Hua Executive Director John Kamm will speak at Columbia Business School’s Uris Hall in November. Photo credit: Columbia University

In November Kamm will be on the road again, visiting Washington DC, New York, Oslo, and Geneva. His first stop is the annual Friends of Dui Hua reception in Washington DC. He will then testify to the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. Subsequent speaking events will be held at Cornell in Washington, the Timothy Gelatt Dialogue at the New York University School of Law, Westport Public Library and Newtown High School in Connecticut, an event hosted by the US-Asia Law Institute, Columbia Business School’s Paul M. Montrone Seminar Series on Ethics, and the roundtable of the Council on Foreign Relations. In Oslo Kamm will speak to the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights, and in Geneva he will meet with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The three-week trip will also include meetings with senior officials from the US, China, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Nations.