Separate and Unequal
CPL Revision and the Treatment of Political Prisoners in China’s Dual-track Justice System
China’s Criminal Procedure Law is on the road to revision. While a draft shows that more attention is being paid to the rights of most suspects and defendants, it also suggests the strengthening of a separate, less-regulated criminal justice system for those accused of state-security offenses (including crimes of speech and association), terrorism, and corruption.
The US and China have a lot in common: they draw international criticism for their prison systems, and they place undue burden on prisoners who refuse to confess. With systems for parole and sentence reduction, both countries should allow “well-behaved” prisoners to serve less than their full sentence, but if prisoners maintain their innocence, they’re likely to face formidable obstacles on the path to early release.
The UN’s adoption of the Bangkok Rules in December 2010 created a new set of standards governing the treatment of women prisoners worldwide, but nearly a year later, implementation is at a standstill in China and other countries. Despite this, the rise in the number of women prisoners has led to some progress in the treatment of women in China’s criminal justice system, especially in regards to domestic violence.
Shanghai Courts: 30 Years of Model Cases (上海法院30年经典案例) is three books of more than 350 cases handled from 1978 to 2008. In it are two instances of political crime that highlight acquittal trends and the reach of long-dead counterrevolutionary crimes into the present day.
Announcing our new logo, tagline, and mission to help more at-risk detainees; highlights from our executive director’s recent trip to China, including a meeting with US Ambassador Gary Locke and an update on US citizen and Chinese political prisoner Dr. Xue Feng; and an upcoming tour of the US and Europe involving testimony to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a meeting with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.