Chen Guangcheng, Human Rights Defender in Prison

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Chen Guangcehng, Human Rights Defender in Prison, Update:

Officials Ignored Requests for Medical Parole

and for Filing Complaints to Higher Court about Verdict

CRD obtained information from Chen Guangcheng’s lawyers that, on March 20, the imprisoned human rights defender was allowed to meet with his lawyers at the Linyi Prison in Shandong Province. Three prison police officers were present during the meeting.

On the same day, the lawyers re-submitted a “request for legal permission for Chen Guangcheng to serve his sentence temporarily outside prison” to the prison management officials. The request had been mailed to Linyi Intermediate Court and the provincial judicial authorities in January, but the lawyers had received no response long after the legal period of time (seven days) for responses to such requests had expired.

According to the PRC Criminal Procedural Law, Article 214, prisoners who cannot take care of themselves and would not constitute a danger to society can be granted “temporary serving of sentence outside jail.” Prisoners serving terms outside jail, according to this law, are subjected to “strict supervision and surveillance” by local Public Security officials, who, in the case of Mr. Chen, will be the same policemen who had abducted him, put him under house arrest, arrested him, and charged him with criminal offenses, for which he is now serving prison time!

During the meeting, Chen Guangcheng told his lawyer that his conditions at the prison are so so and some prison officials seemed to be doing things according to the law. He joked about being settled down there for the next 50 years! But he also said he would continue seeking justice even though he has lost freedom.

Mr. Chen said he had made 18 requests to the prosecution’s branch office at the prison for a meeting with a prosecutor about matters concerning his right to complain. His requests for a meeting were finally granted on March 1 and 2, where he told officials to enter his complaint about his verdict into legal procedures, to which the officials made no response.

The lawyer Li Jingsong reiterated to prison officials who were present at the meeting that Mr. Chen is being wrongfully imprisoned and he would see through the continued efforts to seek justice for Mr. Chen via all possible legal procedures.

Mr. Li asked Mr. Chen’s authorization to drop their plan to sue the official website Xinhua Net for posting an article in September 2005 in which the author accused Mr. Chen of “ten serious crimes.” Mr. Li believes that the website damaged Mr. Chen’s reputation (名誉权). Mr. Li had contacted the Xinhua Net and told the official website that Mr. Chen’s lawyers would sue the agency for “defamation” and “slandering.” On March 19, the agency notified Mr. Li that the article was taken off the website. Mr. Li proposed that they now drop the plan to sue the Xinhua Net, to which Mr. Chen agreed.

Mr. Li also consulted with Mr. Chen about postponing filing a criminal lawsuit with the PRC Supreme Court against the bureau chief of Linyi Public Security Bureau for authorizing and orchestrating illegal abduction and arbitrary detention of Mr. Chen in 2005-2006. Since the case of Chen Guangcheng has become know nationwide and even worldwide, according to PRC Criminal Procedural Law and Administrative Procedural Law, the Supreme Court can hear this case directly. The case was first filed with the local Lanshan District Court, which responded by saying that, on “important cases” with “great influence” like this one, the District Court could not “manage” and the case had to be filed with the Linyi Intermediate Court, which the lawyers did, but they had no response whatsoever from that court. Mr. Li proposed a wait of up to several months before taking this case to the Supreme Court. Mr. Chen also agreed to this delay.

The reason for this postponement, Mr. Li explained to Chen Guangcheng, was that Mr. Chen’s application for serving his term outside jail was just handed in, once again, on March 20 (the same day when this meeting took place), which will take up to 3 or 4 months to get any result. It is wise to get the result before bringing the local police chief to a criminal court!

Chen Guangcheng’s lawyers had mailed Mr. Chen’s application for medical parole after their January 15 prison visit with Mr. Chen. The application was mailed to the Judicial Administration of Shandong Province (山东省司法厅). According to PRC Regulations on Letters and Petition (信访条例regulations on administrative procedures for civil complaints), the Judicial Administration is obligated to respond within seven working days. But the lawyers never got any answer. So now, the application is re-submitted instead to the Linyi prison management authorities.

The lawyer also requested prison officials to facilitate Mr. Chen to read and write with the necessary equipment, such as a Braille typing board, so Mr. Chen, who is blind, can write and express himself and communicate with his lawyers who can’t visit him often.

At the end of the prison visit, the lawyers told Mr. Chen that he was awarded the “Index on Censorship” award for free expression. Mr. Chen replied, “I only did what I am obligated to do.”

For a complete CRD report on the case of Chen Guangcheng, please see “China vs. a Blind Human Rights Defender” at /Article/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=3485

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