[CHRB] Man Still Wrongfully Held for Murder After More Than 4 Years; SPC Issues Guidance on Suspended Death Sentences; and more (10/2-10/10, 2012)Comments Off on [CHRB] Man Still Wrongfully Held for Murder After More Than 4 Years; SPC Issues Guidance on Suspended Death Sentences; and more (10/2-10/10, 2012)
China Human Rights Briefing
October 2-10, 2012
- Elderly Jiangsu Man Wrongfully Detained Over 4 Years for Murder
- Four Tibetans Given Harsh Prison Sentences After Secret Trials in Sichuan
Harassment of Activists
- “Stability Maintenance” and Harassment Increase as Party Congress Nears
- Shenzhen Authorities Impose Fine, Order Closure of Labor Rights NGO
Law & Policy Watch
- Supreme People’s Court Releases “Guiding Case” on Limiting Sentence Reductions for Suspended Death Sentences
Elderly Jiangsu Man Wrongfully Detained Over 4 Years for Murder
An 80-year-old Jiangsu man is still being held in a detention center more than three years after his procedurally flawed trial for homicide in 2009 ended without a conviction, and more than four years after he was first detained. In May 2008, Chen Yudao (陈玉道) was seized by Nantong City police and reportedly coerced to confess to a local murder after being interrogated for an entire week without a break. The court still has not issued a verdict in his case, despite the Criminal Procedure Law’s requirement (Article 168) that a court has at most two and a half months to issue a verdict after it accepts a case. According to Chen’s son, in order to “solve” the case, satisfy their superiors and receive commendations, several police officers fabricated motive, witness testimony, and other evidence for use at the trial. Two officers responsible for the investigation were subsequently promoted. Chen’s children have been appealing to various government offices over the past four years for their father’s release, to no avail.
Four Tibetans Given Harsh Prison Sentences After Secret Trials in Sichuan
Four ethnic Tibetans in Sichuan Province, including three monks, were recently given lengthy prison sentences after secret trials, according to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. On September 18, a court in restive Aba (Tibetan: Ngaba) Prefecture sentenced villager Thupdor (图多) to seven and a half years in prison and monk Lobsang Tashi (洛桑扎西) to seven years for sending information out of the region and making contact with outsiders. Detained in November 2011, the two men are believed to be currently incarcerated in Mianyang Prison. In another trial in September, two teenage monks—Lobsang Tsultrim (洛桑次臣) and Lobsang Jangchup (洛桑香曲)—were sentenced to 11 years and eight years, respectively. Their whereabouts, and the specific charges against them, are unknown. Before learning in September of these two young monks’ sentences, their relatives had not received information about them since March, when security officers in Aba seized the monks, reportedly on suspicion that they helped a friend self-immolate in protest against Chinese rule. Many of the more than 50 self-immolations of Tibetans since February 2009 have occurred in Aba Prefecture.
Harassment of Activists
“Stability Maintenance” and Harassment Increase as Party Congress Nears
Since mid-September, police throughout China have aggressively targeted dissidents, activists and petitioners for harassment and control in response to the anti-Japan protests over the Diaoyu Islands and the September 18 anniversary of the Mukden Incident, and in advance of the “sensitive period” of the 18th Communist Party Congress scheduled for early November. According to reports from various sources, including several domestic human rights groups, more than 90 individuals have recently faced restrictions on their personal liberty by being taken to detention centers, put under “soft detention,” locked up in black jails, forcibly sent to “legal education classes,” or disappeared. Police also have summoned, followed, and beaten activists. Such harassment, which is often conducted in the name of “stability maintenance,” will very likely continue and even increase over the coming weeks as the important Party Congress draws near.
Shenzhen Authorities Impose Fine, Order Closure of Labor Rights NGO
As part of a larger crackdown on worker rights’ NGOs in Shenzhen, local police recently ordered Xiao Xiao Cao (“Little Grass”) Workers’ Home to cease operations and pay a substantial fine for alleged fire code violations. Following a hearing on September 13, in which a lawyer for the NGO argued that any purported fire code issues were the responsibility of the property owner and not the tenant NGO, Shenzhen police ordered the group to pay a fine of 10,000 RMB (approx. US$1,600) by October 12 or face a 3% daily increase to the fine amount. Xiao Xiao Cao, which provides services to migrant workers and has often been a target of official harassment, is now seeking donations to help pay the fine and is preparing to file a suit to challenge the legality of the punishment.
Law & Policy Watch
Supreme People’s Court Releases “Guiding Case” on Limiting Sentence Reductions for Suspended Death Sentences
The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) recently released a “guiding case” that provides direction to lower courts on limiting sentence reductions for convicted criminals who have received suspended death sentences. Following the eighth amendment to the Criminal Law (CL) in 2011, Article 50 of the CL stipulates that criminals given suspended death sentences, who make it past the “two-year reprieve” and have been granted a sentence reduction, will serve at least 25 years in prison. Article 50 also permits courts to consider limiting sentence reductions for certain categories of crimes, including homicide and rape, depending on the circumstances of a case.
In a recent interview, an SPC representative explained that the 25-year minimum for suspended death sentences is aimed at correcting the past phenomenon of criminals being released after an average of only 16 or 17 years in prison—a length of time often considered too light a punishment and not proportional to the crimes committed. The SPC official said that the 25-year minimum helps defuse demands for immediate executions often made by crime victims or their families, and furthers the government’s policy of strictly controlling and cautiously applying use of the death penalty.
The circumstances in the “guiding case” of Li Fei (李飞), who was convicted of intentional homicide for the beating death of his former girlfriend in 2008, illustrates an example of when the SPC believes a suspended death sentence with a limit on sentence reductions is in order. Li was initially sentenced to death by immediate execution, a ruling which was upheld by the provincial high court. However, after the SPC’s review of the decision in 2011, Li was given a suspended death sentence with a limit on sentence reductions. In support of a suspended death sentence, the SPC noted Li’s confession and cooperative behavior while in custody, his mother’s assistance in apprehending him, and the fact that his prior conviction was a light crime; a limit on reductions of Li’s sentence was also warranted, the SPC explained, because of the heinous circumstances of the crime and the fact that he was a recidivist.
Edited by Victor Clemens and Joan Wen
 “China sentences two Tibetan men to 7 1/2 years for sharing information,” October 2, 2012, TCHRD; “Two teenage monks sentenced to 11 years and 8 years in prison,” October 2, 2012, TCHRD
 “Supreme People’s Court: Actual Punishment When Limiting Reductions for Suspended Death Sentences Generally Not Less Than 25 Years” (最高院：死缓限制减刑案实刑一般不少于25年), September 28, 2012, Caixin; “Supreme People’s Court: Correctly Apply Limits on Sentence Reductions for Suspended Death Sentences” (最高法：依法准确适用死缓限制减刑), September 26, 2012, People’s Court Daily