Submission to UN on Ding Jiaxi – April 24, 2014

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Submission to:

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

Communique on Behalf of Ding Jiaxi, Citizen of the People’s Republic of China,

Alleging Arbitrary Detention,

Violation of Freedom of Expression, Assembly and Association,

and Reprisals against Human Rights Defenders


1. Family name: Ding (丁)

2. First name: Jiaxi (家喜)

3. Sex: Male

4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): August 17, 1967

5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China

6. (a) Identity document (if any): ID Card

7. Address of usual residence:

8. Professions and/or activities of the detainees (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention):  

Ding Jiaxi, a Beijing-based human rights lawyer, most recently has taken part in the “New Citizens’ Movement,” a loose grouping of activists that since 2011 has been advocating social justice and political and legal reforms. (The movement has been spearheaded by the professor and legal advocate Xu Zhiyong (许志永), who himself was issued a four-year sentence in January 2014 in reprisal for his activism.) Ding began his activism in 2010 by pushing for the right of migrant workers’ children to take college entrance exams at the location of their urban residence rather than needing to return to their rural place of origin (as required under China’s “household registration” system).

II. Arrest

1. Date of arrest: April 17, 2013

2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Ding Jiaxi’s home in Beijing

3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out:

Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (“Beijing PSB”)

4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority?

(Yes) √     (No)

5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: Beijing PSB

6. Relevant legislation applied (if known): Article 80 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, which provides that “Public security organs may initially detain an active criminal or a major suspect under any of the following conditions: (1) if he is preparing to commit a crime, is in the process of committing a crime or is discovered immediately after committing a crime; (2) if he is identified as having committed a crime by a victim or an eyewitness; (3) if criminal evidence is found on his body or at his residence; (4) if he attempts to commit suicide or escape after committing a crime, or he is a fugitive; (5) if there is likelihood of his destroying or falsifying evidence or tallying confessions; (6) if he does not tell his true name and address and his identity is unknown; and (7) if he is strongly suspected of committing crimes from one place to another, repeatedly, or in a gang.”

III. Detention

1. Date of detention: Lawyer Ding was criminally detained on April 17, 2013, formally arrested on May 24, 2013, and issued a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence on April 18, 2014.

2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): From April 17, 2013, through the present (i.e., his detention is ongoing)

3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Beijing PSB

4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Beijing No. 3 Detention Center

5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate Branch No. 1 (arrest) and Haidian District People’s Court (three-year prison sentence)

6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: “Gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place” through “holding banners calling for disclosure of Chinese officials’ financial assets,” and “inciting and organizing hundreds of people to appeal for equal access to education in front of the Ministry of Education building.”

7. Relevant legislation applied (if known):

For the crime of “gathering a crowd to disrupt the order of a public place,” Article 291 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China stipulates a fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention or public surveillance to those who are gathered to disturb order at railway stations or bus terminals, wharves, civil airports, marketplaces, parks, theaters, cinemas, exhibition halls, sports grounds or other public places, or to block traffic or undermine traffic order, or resist or obstruct public security administrators of the State from carrying out their duties according to law, if the circumstances are serious.

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

Mr. Ding Jiaxi was taken into custody in April 2013 after police raided his home, office, and car. He was seized in retaliation for his involvement in an anti-corruption campaign linked to the “New Citizens Movement,” a loose grouping of activists who have been calling for top Chinese officials to disclose their financial assets. Police had been closely monitoring Ding’s role in the movement before taking him into custody.

Mr. Ding’s lawyer, Cheng Hai (程海), was beaten inside the Beijing No. 3 Detention Center while he was going to visit Ding there on November 26, 2013. Cheng had prepared to take a photo of Ding during their visit—an act permitted by the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) of China—but police prevented Cheng from doing so and assaulted him. Cheng scuffled with police as they were taking him away, and police then held Cheng at the detention facility for five hours before releasing him.

Trial proceedings for Mr. Ding began on January 27, 2014, in Haidian District People’s Court in Beijing, but were suspended after myriad legal and procedural violations that occurred both before and during the hearing, and after lawyer Cheng resigned from the case in protest. Prior to the trial, the court did not allow an adequate period of time for lawyer Cheng to review case files, including the prosecutor’s “evidence” against Ding. Cheng was also prohibited from making copies of the files, in violation of the lawyer’s right granted under China’s CPL. Court authorities rejected Cheng’s request to have the hearing open to the public, and instead arranged to stage the trial in a small courtroom and turned away the public by citing “limited space.” The court refused many applications to witness the proceedings that had been submitted by activists and other Ding supporters. At trial, lawyer Cheng refused to speak in defense as a form of protest over the myriad procedural illegalities. Cheng stepped down from the case in protest over not having access to proper case materials, and accused court officials of not possessing sufficient authority. The trial was thus suspended.

On March 19, 2014, a new lawyer representing Mr. Ding, Sui Muqing (隋牧青), was notified by the court to view video materials, which indicated that the trial for Ding would begin soon thereafter. Lawyer Sui encountered much interference and obstruction by officials before meeting Ding in the detention center.

Mr. Ding’s trial resumed on April 8 under heavy police presence around Haidian District People’s Court, and proceedings were again marred by outrageous violations. Activists were taken away from outside the courthouse, and several foreign diplomats were blocked from attending the hearing. Police assaulted lawyer Sui during a court recess after he gave a media interview. On April 9, Sui walked out of the courtroom in protest after he was given photocopies of the evidence against Ding, rather than original documentation. Sui was given two warnings by the judge and then issued a fine, and said he would only continue with the case if the court followed proper procedures and provided original case documents.

On April 17—one day before Mr. Ding’s sentencing hearing—judicial authorities expelled Sui’s qualification to represent Ding. The following day, proceedings were held under tight police control. Authorities rejected Sui’s defense statement regarding his walking out of the court in protest, and blocked him from attending the sentencing. On April 18, 2014, the court handed down a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence to Ding Jiaxi.

In both January and April of 2014, authorities’ deliberate blocking of the public from attending the court hearings held for Mr. Ding made them tantamount to closed proceedings. This constitutes a clear violation of China’s CPL, which stipulates that first-instance trials shall be heard in public (Articles 11 and 152 of the 1996 CPL; Article 183 of the 2013 CPL).

Mr. Ding has been detained and tried solely on the basis of the peaceful exercise of his rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Specifically, under the Working Group’s criteria for determining when a deprivation of liberty is arbitrary, the circumstances of their detentions satisfy both Category II (i.e., when the deprivation of liberty results from the exercise of the rights or freedoms guaranteed by articles 7, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, and 21 of the UDHR and Category III (i.e., when the total or partial non-observance of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial, spelled out in the UDHR 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).

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

Lawyers released joint statements disclosing and protesting officials’ illegal conducts related to the case, and calling for the release of lawyer Ding. Rights activists nationwide have showed much support for Zhao and protested against authorities in various ways as well, including by: taking to the streets to hold banners, writing joint appeals, and asking to observe trial proceedings.


Date submitted: April 24, 2014


Related documentation:

May 22, 2015 – Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 3/2015 (China) on Ding Jiaxi     (中文版本)

August 20, 2014 – Chinese government response to case of Ding Jiaxi


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