International Human Rights Day is always a good time to take China’s temperature. This year, the country is especially feverish. Amazingly, 63 years after the People’s Republic was established, populous and powerful China still has no effective means of enforcing the rights enshrined in its constitution. Yet, once again, new Communist Party leaders reignite hopes for bringing government and the party under the rule of law.
Posts Tagged ‘ criminal procedure law ’
In China, as elsewhere, famous cases enhance popular understanding of the legal system. Just a year ago, when Beijing police detained noted Chinese artist Ai Weiwei incommunicado for 81 days, they exposed national and foreign audiences to their unlawful abuse of “residential surveillance.” Now, the Communist Party has subjected Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s deposed Party secretary, to the party disciplinary procedure of “shuanggui” (literally “double designation”), bringing public attention to another extra-legal, widely-feared type of incommunicado detention with an innocuous name. The simultaneous confinement of Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, on murder charges illustrates a third type of incommunicado detention, one authorized by law until the newly-revised criminal procedure law (*CPL) takes effect January 1, 2013.
Last week, within twenty-four hours, China’s National People’s Congress enacted a revised Criminal Procedure Law and its Communist Party ousted a rising political star. Superficially, the two Beijing events seemed unconnected. Yet they are linked.
On Thursday, March 8, 2012, the revised draft of the criminal procedure law was formally introduced to the national legislature in China, including stricter revisions that restrict the police’s power to secretly detain people–at least on paper. Professor Cohen’s commentary is available here.
Before the end of this month, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will review the second draft of a proposal for comprehensive revisions to China’s Criminal Procedure Law. Despite some tweaks made under public pressure, it’s clear the revisions will be one step forward and two steps back for justice, at least for the politically controversial.