Human Rights Council, European Talks

United Nations office in Geneva

In early March, Executive Director John Kamm and Development & Program Manager Daisy Yau attended the 19th Human Rights Council at the United Nations office in Geneva. During the session, side events were held on the practice of solitary confinement and the implementation of the UN standards for the treatment of women prisoners (the Bangkok Rules). The forum on solitary confinement focused on abuses in US super-maximum security prisons but had global implications. Following the event, Dui Hua compiled and published information on solitary confinement in China, specifically in cases of residential surveillance. At the Bangkok Rules forum, panelists urged the need to spread awareness about the rules and proposed an implementation plan. While the Bangkok Rules are essential for safeguarding the rights and special needs of the world’s growing number of women prisoners, governments have done little to study or implement the rules since their adoption in December 2010.

While in Geneva, Kamm and Yau met with Chair Rapporteur Jeremy Sarkin of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, Ambassador Eileen Donahoe of the US Mission, Rory Mungoven of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Rachel Brett of the Quaker United Nations Office. Consultations with Sarkin indicated that amendments to China’s Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), specifically Article 83, constitute enforced disappearance under international law. On a day trip to Bern, Kamm and Yau met with senior members of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, including ambassadors Paul Koller and Valentin Zellweger, where they discussed the delicate state of bilateral human rights dialogues held with China and the implications of the CPL amendments.

Before heading to Geneva, Kamm and Yau traveled to Oslo. They visited Norway’s largest women’s prison and held meetings with officials of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and members of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Kamm updated Norwegian officials on the implications of Beijing’s upcoming leadership transition and on Dui Hua’s latest research on women in prison in China.

Beijing: A Victory for Juvenile Justice

In mid-March, Kamm departed Europe for Beijing and had a number of fruitful meetings with the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), reinforcing Dui Hua’s close working relationship with the Chinese government. Kamm received verbal information on prisoners and laid the groundwork for a future seminar on women in prison. He also met privately with foreign ambassadors-in-residence from Canada, Denmark, the EU, France, and Switzerland. At a subsequent gathering of foreign diplomats, Kamm was told that execution statistics presented by a Chinese judge at an official forum in February confirmed the estimate Dui Hua announced in December.

San Francisco Boys & Girls Home staff with Judge Julie Tang (third from right) and Dui Hua Development & Program Manager Daisy Yau (left).

One of the most concrete successes of the trip was the SPC’s agreement to join Dui Hua in holding a third juvenile justice exchange. Following a delegation to the US in 2008 and to China in 2010, a delegation of six SPC and provincial judges will travel to the San Francisco Bay Area in September 2012. During the six-day program, delegates will have the opportunity to observe court proceedings, visit juvenile detention and alternative rehabilitation centers, and participate in academic seminars with legal experts and judges. In light of a new section on juvenile procedures in the amended CPL, Dui Hua is optimistic that the program will lead to further reform and better treatment of people in the juvenile justice system.

In preparation for the upcoming exchange, Dui Hua staff accompanied Judge Julie Tang, a partner and participant in the upcoming exchange, on a visit to the San Francisco Boys & Girls Home, a community-based residential treatment program in San Francisco. The facility can accommodate up to 10 young men and 10 young women with services including community recreation and treatment programs for mental health and substance abuse issues.

Dui Hua directors Magdalen Yum and Tom Gorman (right) with Executive Director John Kamm at the Friends of Dui Hua Hong Kong Reception.

Celebrating Five Years in Hong Kong

On March 20, Dui Hua hosted the Friends of Dui Hua Hong Kong Reception in celebration of the five-year anniversary of its Hong Kong office. Nearly 40 of Dui Hua’s close friends and supporters came to celebrate Dui Hua’s accomplishments and future plans. Kamm made brief yet enthusiastic remarks about Dui Hua’s upcoming initiatives for juvenile justice and women in prison and stressed Dui Hua’s thriving relationship and productive dialogue with Chinese and European governments. ■