Submission to UN on Wang Guilan – October 27, 2008

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Questionnaire completed by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Alleging Arbitrary Arrest or Detention of Human Rights Defender Wang Guilan

To: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

 

The Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders
I. IDENTITY

1. Family name: Wang (王)
2. First name: Guilan (桂兰)
3. Sex: Female
4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): May 20, 1961
5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China
6. (a) Identity document (if any): Identification Card
(b) Issued by: Enshi City Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Hubei Province

7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):

Wang is a former small business owner, human rights activist and petitioner (one who seeks redress from higher authorities for injustice at lower levels of government). She began petitioning in 2001 when she had a legal dispute with a local mall where she had rented a stall since 1993. The court presiding over the case ordered the mall to compensate Wang. The mall failed to do so, and Wang exhausted all legal avenues to force the mall to comply with the court order. Wang believed that the court had acted illegally in processing her case and started to petition.
For her petitioning, Wang has been repeatedly detained and beaten. Wang also became vocal about the violations of other petitioners’ rights, for which she has suffered additional and repeated persecution. For example, on October 14, 2007, Wang was detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” for organizing a public letter signed by 12, 150 petitioners. Wang was released on October 22. On December 18, 2007, Wang was detained again for having exposed the “sale” of petitioners by police from Fuyoujie Police Station under Beijing Municipal PSB for 500 RMB per petitioner to authorities from the petitioners’ hometowns. Wang was released on January 18, 2008. Wang was again taken into police custody on February 28, 2008 immediately after the release of an open letter signed by 12,709 petitioners calling on the Chinese government to improve the human rights situation, which Wang had helped to organize. Wang was released in March before she was again detained on April 17, 2008.

 

II. Arrest

1. Date of arrest: April 17, 2008
2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible):

On April 17, 2008, on the pretext of “checking identification cards,” police from Fuyoujie Police Station under Beijing PSB took away Wang while she was walking on the street near Beijing South Station
3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out:

Fuyoujie Police Station under Beijing PSB

4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority?
No

 

III. Detention

1. Date of detention: April 17, 2008
2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Wang has been detained since April 17, 2008
3. Forces holding the detainee under custody:

When Wang was first apprehended on April 17, she was held by the police from Fuyoujie Police Station under Beijing PSB. A day later, Beijing police handed Wang to interceptors from Enshi City, Hubei Province, who forcibly escorted her back to Enshi City. Between April 18 and July 29, Wang was held by these interceptors and detained in two “black jails” in Enshi City. Between July 29 and August 20, Wang was criminally detained at Enshi City PSB Detention Center by Enshi City PSB. On August 20, Wang was sent to 15 months of Re-education through Labor (RTL) by Enshi City RTL Management Committee. However, she is still held at Enshi City PSB Detention Center by Enshi City PSB until she is sent to a RTL Camp.
4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention):
It is unclear where Wang was held when she was first apprehended on April 17. Between April 18 and July 29, Wang was held in two “black jails” in Enshi City, Hubei Province. One black jail, where Wang was incarcerated most of the time in that period, was located at a hill 6km away from Enshi City. The another jail was at a forest/park in Enshi City. Since July 29, Wang has been held at Enshi City PSB Detention Center.
5. Authorities that ordered the detention:

Enshi City government and Enshi City PSB
6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities:

Between April 17 and July 27, the authorities did not provide any formal written explanation of Wang’s detention. On May 7, Wang was told by the Secretary of the Enshi City Political-Legal Committee that she was held in the black jail for “illegally” petitioning higher authorities.
On July 27, when Wang was criminally detained, she was detained on suspicion of “disturbing social order”. On August 20, when the decision was made to send Wang to RTL, the authorities alleged that Wang is punished for “disturbing social order”.
7. Relevant legislation applied (if known):

On July 27, Wang was criminally detained on suspicion of “disturbing social order” but it is unclear which relevant legislation was applied. On August 20, Wang was sent to RTL for “disturbing social order” in accordance with Article 10(4) of the Trial Methods for Implementation of Re-education Through Labor.

 

IV. Describe the circumstances of the arrest and/or the detention and indicate precise reasons why you consider the arrest or detention to the arbitrary
According to the WGAD’s methods, deprivation of a person’s liberty is “arbitrary,” if the case falls into at least one or all of three categories (http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/detention/complaint):
A) When it is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty (as when a person is kept in detention after the completion of his sentence or despite an amnesty law applicable to him)(Category I);
B) When the deprivation of liberty results from the exercise of the rights or freedoms guaranteed by articles 7, 13, 14, 18, 19, 10 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, insofar as States parties are concerned, by articles 12, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26 and 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Category II); (i.e., rights to free opinion, speech, expression, press, assembly, association, and demonstration, etc.)
C) When the total or partial non-observance of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial, spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the relevant international instruments accepted by the States concerned, is of such gravity as to give the deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character (Category III).
Wang’s detention is arbitrary because it falls under Categories I, II and III.
Category I:
Wang’s detention in the black jails in Enshi City between April 18 and July 29 is clearly arbitrary because these black jails have no legal basis in Chinese laws. These black jails are secret, illegal and extrajudicial detention facilities in which individuals can be detained indefinitely without charge, trial or access to legal counsel.
The decision to send Wang to 15 months of RTL on August 20 is also arbitrary. RTL, being an administrative measure, occurs outside of any judicial process. It is “administered” directly and arbitrarily by law enforcement officials. Without access to legal counsel or judicial trial, individuals can be detained for a maximum of four years. RTL is in contravention of international human rights law as well as Article 37 of the Chinese Constitution. Moreover, RTL has no firm legal basis in Chinese law. Article 8 of China’s Legislative Law and Article 9 of China’s Administrative Punishment Law state that punishment which deprives citizens of their personal freedom can “only be formulated into laws by the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its Standing Committee (NPCSC).” Since the three documents governing RTL, “Decision Regarding the Question of Re-education through Labor,” “Supplementary Regulations Regarding Re-education through Labor,” and the “Trial Methods for the Implementation of Re-education through Labor,” were formulated by either the State Council or the Ministry of Public Security, they are not “laws” because they were not promulgated by the NPCSC or the NPC.
Category II:
Wang has been detained solely for complaining about government misconduct, for peaceful expression of opinion and having organized fellow citizens to voice their concerns and defend their human rights.

Category III:
Wang’s rights to due process, free and fair trial and legal counsel have been violated because she has been detained in “black jails” and sent to RTL without charge, trial or access to lawyers.
V. Indicate internal steps, including domestic remedies, taken especially with the legal and administrative authorities, particularly for the purpose of establishing the detention and, as appropriate, their results or the reasons why such steps or remedies were ineffective or why they were not taken
Wang’s family has hired a lawyer for her and an application for an Administrative Review has been submitted to the Enshi City government. Enshi City government has not yet responded to the application.

 

 

 

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