“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

China’s Black Jails.

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China has a multiplicity of mini Gitmos scattered around the country, more commonly known as “black jails”.

These black jails are outside the judicial system, where ordinary people who are perceived as troublesome are locked up for weeks or months at a stretch, Reuters explains:

“So why are petitioners being treated this way? Black jails emerged in 2003 after the Chinese government abolished laws permitting the arbitrary detention of any “undesirables.” But that progress was undercut by the introduction at the local level of guidelines that limit local officials’ prospects for promotions or raises if petitioners from their areas carried on their efforts to find justice in larger cities.

What might have been intended as an incentive to make local officials deal with local grievances became an incentive for those officials to keep petitioners off the streets and invest considerable resources in achieving that goal. Plainclothes thugs commonly known as retrievers, or jiefang renyuan, locate and abduct petitioners in Beijing and other cities for bounties as high as $250 per person. Operators of black jail facilities reap daily cash payments from local governments of up to $29 per detainee, helping to perpetuate black jail abuses.

Rather than crack down on these facilities, the central Chinese government denies that they even exist. In an April 2009 Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs press conference, a MOFA official responded to a foreign correspondent’s query about black jails by insisting, “Things like this do not exist in China.”

In June 2009, the Chinese government asserted in the Outcome Report of the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission’s Universal Periodic Review of China’s human rights record that, “There are no black jails in the country.”

Such denials make a mockery of the commitment in the first-ever National Human Rights Action Plan that, “The Chinese government unswervingly pushes forward the cause of human rights in China.” The Chinese government’s credibility would be considerably enhanced by acknowledging that black jails do indeed exist, shutting them down, liberating detainees, and bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Update 1: HRW reports:

“Inside China’s black jails, detainees are denied access to legal counsel and in most cases contact with family and friends. Detainees are kept under constant surveillance, and subject to often arbitrary physical and psychological abuse including beatings, sexual violence, threats, and intimidation. In some black jail facilities, guards deprive detainees of food and sleep as mechanisms to punish, control, or elicit information from detainees. Black jail conditions are uniformly harsh. Detainees endure crowded sleeping quarters, unsanitary conditions, poor quality food in insufficient quantities, and violent reprisals for complaints about such conditions.

The guards at black jails routinely deny detainees access to needed medical care, even in cases of injuries from beatings. One former black jail detainee resorted to a three-day hunger strike to compel her captors to allow her access to a doctor. Former black jail detainees report that guards often steal detainees’ personal belongings, including petitioning documents, demand payment for food or lodging at the black jail facilities, and demand large lump sum payments as high as 15,000 yuan (US$2,205) as a condition of release.”

Written by modernityblog

18/11/2009 at 12:03

One Response

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  1. […] Update 1: I covered a similar point before in, China’s Black Jails. […]

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