People’s Republic of China: Ongoing “residential surveillance” of human rights defender Zhu Chengzhi

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Originally published in FIDH on April 3, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention on the following situation in the People’s Republic of China.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) that human rights defender Mr. Zhu Chengzhi remains held under “residential surveillance” and continues to be at risk of incommunicado detention.

According to the information received, Mr. Zhu Chengzhi, who has been detained since June 2012, has remained held under “residential surveillance” since January 4, 2013, as ordered by the Shaoyang Public Security Bureau – PSB (See background information). Mr. Zhu was first held at an undisclosed location, in what might have been the first use of Article 73 of the revised Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), which permits subjecting an individual to “enforced disappearance”[1]. Police in Hunan merely notified Mr. Zhu Chengzhi’s family of the “residential surveillance” on the charge of “inciting subversion of State power”, but without disclosing his whereabouts or indicating exactly how long he will serve.

On February 1, 2013, Mr. Zhu was allowed to go home to serve his residential surveillance, but remained under restrictions imposed by the Shaoyang PSB. These restrictions, as stipulated by the CPL, included needing police approval to leave Shaoyang City or meet with anyone. The Shaoyang PSB has blocked Beijing-based human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, Mr. Zhu’s legal representative, from visiting him, a clear violation of Article 33 of the Lawyer’s Law. While Article 37 of the CPL gives lawyers the right to meet with clients who are under residential surveillance, the provision also gives police discretion to deny lawyers’ requests when the client’s alleged offense falls under the category of “endangering State security”, which includes the charge of inciting subversion.

On March 15, 2013, Mr. Zhu was again taken away by Shaoyang national security officers to an unknown location, before returning home on March 20.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the ongoing arbitrary detention and risk of incommunicado detention of Mr.Zhu Chengzhi, which seems to be aimed at sanctioning his human rights activities. The Observatory fears for his physical and psychological integrity, and calls upon the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him, as his detention seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities.

Background information:

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Zhu Chengzhi was arrested by the Shaoyang police on June 9, 2012.The Shaoyang PSB initially took him into custody at the Daxiang District Police Station, and then transferred him to the Shaoyang City Detention Centre on June 18, where he served a 10-day administrative detention on a charge of “disrupting social order”, allegedly for refusing to guarantee that he would stop investigating the cause of death of labour activist Li Wangyang, who died under suspicious circumstances in June 2012. Mr. Zhu was then criminally detained for “inciting subversion” and formally arrested on July 25, 2012, on the same charge.

On January 4, 2013, Mr. Zhu’s legal representative was informed that the Shaoyang PSB decided to subject him to six months of “residential surveillance” at an undisclosed location, beginning on January 4.

Moreover, according to one of Mr. Zhu Chengzhi’s lawyers, on March 15, 2013, the Shaoyang City People’s Procuratorate sent Mr. Zhu’s case back to the Shaoyang PSB for further investigation, the second time the case has been returned to police. According to Chinese law, the charges against Mr. Zhu must be dropped if the case is not prosecuted following this second period of further investigation (On December 25, 2012, the Shaoyang PSB first transferred Mr. Zhu’s case to the Procuratorate for review, but the Procuratorate sent the case back to police for more investigation on January 4, 2013).

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in the People’s Republic of China, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Zhu Chengzhi as well as of all human rights defenders in China;

ii. ReleaseMr. Zhu Chengzhi’s immediately and unconditionally, since his detention is arbitrary and seems to only aim at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Zhu Chengzhias well as against all human rights defenders in China;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the People’s Republic of China.


Mr. Li Keqiang Guojiazhongli, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Guojia Zongli, The State Council General Office, 2 Fuyoujie, Xichengqu, Beijingshi 100017, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 65961109 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Email:
Minister of Justice of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Sifabu, 10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyangqu, Beijingshi 100020, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6529 2345, Emails: /
Mr. Li Xiaokui Juzhang, Director of the Public Security Bureau of Shaoyang, 8 Hongqilu Qingyunjie, Shaoyang city, Hunan Province, 422000 People’s Republic of China. Tel/Fax: +86 0739 5163018. Email:
Dai Huafeng Daijianchayuanzhang, Acting Chief Prosecutor of the People’s Procuratorate of Shaoyang, 27 Weiyuandong lu, Shaoyang City, Hunan Province, 422006 People’s Republic of China. Fax: +86 0739 56927954
Ambassador Liu Zhenmin, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, Chemin de Surville 11, P.O. Box 85, 1213 Petit-Lancy 2, Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7937014, E-mail:

Ambassador Liao Liqiang, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Avenue de Tervuren 443-445, 1150 Woluwe Saint-Pierre, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 762 99 66 / +32 2 779 28 95

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the People’s Republic of China in your respective country.

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