Submission to UN on Jia Lingmin – May 7, 2015Comments Off on Submission to UN on Jia Lingmin – May 7, 2015
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
Communiqué on Behalf of Jia Lingmin, Citizen of the People’s Republic of China,
Alleging Arbitrary Detention,
Violation of Freedom of Expression, Assembly and Association, and Reprisals against a Human Rights Defender
1. Family name: Jia (贾)
2. First name: Lingmin (灵敏)
3. Sex: Female
4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention): February 27, 1965
5. Nationality/Nationalities: People’s Republic of China
6. (a) Identity document (if any): ID Card
7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the arrest/detention): A prominent housing rights activist, Jia Lingmin has been promoting rights awareness since her home was unlawfully demolished in 2010, including imparting information on how to use legal procedures to seek remedies for rights abuses. Advocating peaceful methods, she has given hundreds of lectures across China to impart best practices for rights defense, such as how to monitor police misconduct.
8. Address of usual residence: Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, China
1. Date of arrest: May 7, 2014
2. Place of arrest (as detailed as possible): Intersection at Kexue Avenue and Ruida Road in Gaoxin District, Zhengzhou City.
3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it out: Officers at Wutongjie Police Station in Gaoxin District of Zhengzhou Public Security Bureau (Zhengzhou PSB)
4. Did they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority? No
5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision: No warrant is known to have been issued.
6. Reasons for the arrest imputed by the authorities: No reason given at the time of arrest.
7. Legal basis for the arrest including relevant legislation applied (if known): Since no warrant was issued, it is unclear what relevant legislation the police used to conduct the arrest.
1. Date of detention: May 7, 2014
2. Duration of detention (if not known, probable duration): Jia has been in detention since May 7, 2014.
3. Forces holding the detainee under custody: Zhengzhou PSB
4. Places of detention (indicate any transfer and present place of detention): Jia was forcibly taken to Wutongjie Police Station in Gaoxin District on May 7, 2014. On May 8, she was transferred from the Shibalihe Branch of the Zhengzhou PSB to her current place of detention, Zhengzhou City No. 3 Detention Center.
5. Authorities that ordered the detention: Shibalihe Branch of Zhengzhou PSB
6. Reasons for the detention imputed by the authorities: According to the detention notice dated May 8, 2014, Jia was criminally detained on suspicion of “disrupting social order.” Then on May 30, Jia was formally arrested for a different crime, “creating a disturbance.”
7. Legal basis for the detention including relevant legislation applied (if known): “Disrupting social order” is a crime stipulated under Article 290 of China’s Criminal Law, while “creating a disturbance” is stipulated under Article 293.
IV. Describe the circumstances of the arrest.
On May 7, 2014, Jia Lingmin responded to a call for help from an individual in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province whose home was about to be demolished without consent. After she arrived at the scene, Jia wanted to file a report with the police and demand their presence and assistance. Shortly thereafter, she saw a police car nearby and proceeded to ask for help. However, when she saw the men inside lacked clear police identification, Jia began to photograph them and ask for documentation proving that they were police officers. Police then snatched away her cell phone, pushed her into the vehicle, and forcibly took her to Wutongjie Police Station in Gaoxin District without producing a detention notice. After she was transferred to Zhengzhou City No. 3 Detention Center the next day, authorities blocked lawyers’ requests to see her for nearly a week and claimed Jia was not detained at the facility. Lawyers later found out that detention center personnel had registered Jia under a different name in their system, apparently to prevent her from accessing legal counsel.
V. Indicate reasons why you consider the arrest and/or detention to be arbitrary
It is widely believed that Jia Lingmin’s detention is a pretext to stop her from exercising her rights, and retaliation against her for helping educate thousands of Chinese citizens on how to protect themselves from rights violations and seek redress. The change of the criminal charge against her—to a more serious charge that would allow for a longer prison sentence—suggest the authorities’ aim has been to punish her to the greatest extent allowed by law. Also, when Jia was initially detained, police did not produce an official detention notice. This is a violation of Article 83 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), which stipulates that public security bureau officers must produce an official notice when placing an individual under detention.
Procedural violations occurred throughout Ms. Jia’s pre-trial detention and during trial proceedings that were eventually suspended. For instance, local authorities registered Jia under a different name in order to deny her right to access legal counsel. Nearly one year after she was first taken into custody, Jia was tried at the Heluo Center People’s Court in Gongyi City on April 27, 2015. The hearing, however, was suspended after the defense team refused to continue due to procedural violations and the failure of authorities to fulfill requests by Jia and her lawyers related to the trial. For example, Jia’s lawyers were not notified in a timely manner of the trial date, which they also had not agreed upon. Also, court authorities refused to provide a large courtroom to accommodate hundreds of witnesses that the defense intended to call, hold a public trial, and allow broadcasting. (In addition, one lawyer for Jia was denied accommodation at a local hotel due to “orders from above” that supposedly mandated denial of service to non-locals for the month of April 2015.)
More than a hundred police officers were deployed on the day of the trial to intimidate and block people from going to the courthouse, including some of Ms. Jia’s family members and friends. Local authorities obstructed a fair trial by preventing lawyers, friends, and supporters from attending the hearing, a violation of Chinese law, 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).
Prior to trial, the procuratorate had twice sent back Ms. Jia’s case to police for further investigation, a strong indication that there is a lack of evidence of criminal activity. The prosecution has based its trumped-up case against Jia on four instances in which she was peacefully exercising her rights to expression, association, and assembly: giving a lecture in September 2013; appearing at a scene of a demolition in January 2014; welcoming a fellow activist released from detention in January 2014; and appearing at the scene when a victim of forced demolition tried to commit suicide in April 2014.
The circumstances of Jia Lingmin’s detention 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).
VI. 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.
After Ms. Jia was first detained, her family and lawyers openly protested about being unable to locate her at the Zhengzhou City No. 3 Detention Center. Activists nationwide, especially those who benefited from her public activism, have supported Jia and protested against authorities in various ways, including by: publishing joint statements online, taking to the streets to hold banners calling for her release, going to Gongyi City to advocate for justice in her case, and asking to observe trial proceedings. In retaliation, authorities have harassed many of these supporters.
Date submitted: May 7, 2015