CHRD Releases “We can Beat You to Death With Impunity,” a report about secret detention & abuse of women in China’s black jailsComments Off on CHRD Releases “We can Beat You to Death With Impunity,” a report about secret detention & abuse of women in China’s black jails
(Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders – October 21, 2014) – A woman named Ding Hongfen (丁红芬) will stand on trial this Saturday in the city of Wuxi in Jiangsu Province. She faces a charge of “intentional damage to property” from an incident that happened in June 2013, when she and other activists broke into a secret detention facility and liberated a dozen illegally held Wuxi residents. Ding and the others are facing likely prison time in retaliation for uncovering the “black jail” and for the daring rescue.
In a report released today, “We can Beat You to Death With Impunity” Secret Detention & Abuse of Women in China’s Black Jails CHRD tells the stories of individuals such as Ms. Ding, herself a victim of extralegal detention, and many other victims in China’s widespread facilities known as “black jails.” The report exposes the abuses particularly against women locked up in the facilities, where roughly 80% of detainees are female, and examines why activists like Ding who exposed black jails and seek justice are being persecuted, while officials running the illegal facilities enjoy total impunity.
Shuttered Re-education through Labor camps have been partially replaced by proliferating “black jails,” a wide array of holding cells where an individual can be detained for an indeterminate period of time on orders of government officials, without any legal recourse. Inside these shadowy detention cells, the predominantly female detainees—including elderly women, migrant women, women who lost land or were victimized by forced eviction, women with disabilities, and mothers with young children—are subjected to appalling abuses, from physical and sexual assaults to deprivation of medical treatment.
“We call them ‘black jails’ because they’re illegal, often in secret locations, they’re covered up by the government, and their victims are silenced,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s international director. “The fact that these sprawling facilities disproportionately affect women testifies to the widespread state-sponsored violence against women.”
Black jails are tied to roughly one in seven known cases of deprivation of liberty of human rights defenders in China between January 2012 and September 2014, according to data compiled by CHRD. In one medium-sized city alone, lawyers and activists as of early 2013 documented 96 locations being used as black jails. Even as such facilities have been reported on all over the country, Chinese officials adamantly deny their existence. Authorities operating these facilities have enjoyed total impunity, and victims seeking reparations have been obstructed, silenced, and further punished.
“The government adamantly denies the reality of ‘black jails’ because it wants to use them to ‘maintain stability’ without getting the bad publicity,” said Xia. “The very existence of black jails contradicts a favorite mantra of Chinese leaders, that ‘China is a country ruled by law.’”
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which is reviewing China this week, previously urged China to “prevent any detention of women without due legal process.” China has clearly failed to implement this recommendation. The Committee must hold China accountable for continuing the operation of black jails and obstructing victims from seeking redress.
CHRD’s key recommendations to the Chinese government include:
- Acknowledge publicly the existence of black jails, and begin the process of abolishing all types of extralegal detention.
- Enforce domestic laws and international standards regarding arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and the protection of women.
- Conduct investigations into allegations of abuses, and hold criminally responsible officials operating black jail and perpetrators of abuses.
- Provide accessible legal channels for victims to seek justice and reparations.
Read the full report and view appendices of black jail locations and case information for 163 women detained in black jails.
Click here for testimonies in photographs and video.
For more information, please contact:
Renee Xia, International Director (Mandarin, English), +1 240 374 8937, firstname.lastname@example.org
Victor Clemens, Research Coordinator (English), +1 209 643 0539, email@example.com
Frances Eve, Research Assistant (English), + 1 646 801 9479, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Lin, Hong Kong Coordinator (Mandarin, Cantonese, English), +852 6933 3871, email@example.com