Update and Appeal on Behalf of Xiao Yunling – May 18, 2017

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Submission to:

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

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

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Special Rapporteur on the right to health

Update and Appeal on Behalf of Xiao Yunling, Citizen of the People’s Republic of China,

Alleging Torture, Including Denied Critical Medical Treatment

Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) hereby respectfully submits an update on the ill-treatment of imprisoned Chinese petitioner/human rights defender Xiao Yunling (肖蕴苓). This update follows the urgent appeal on behalf of Ms. Xiao and other Chinese citizens that we submitted on May 16, 2016 (see: https://www.nchrd.org/2016/06/submission-to-un-on-six-human-rights-defenders-may-16-2016/).

In that communication, CHRD brought to your attention the cases of several incarcerated individuals, including Ms. Xiao, who were being deprived of proper medical treatment, which constitutes torture.

Due to new information regarding Ms. Xiao’s worsening health, CHRD is again writing with concern on her behalf. The information below has been provided to CHRD by her daughter, who has granted permission for CHRD to submit this urgent appeal to UN Special Procedures. 


Ms. Xiao Yunling, 80, is serving a six-year sentence since being convicted of “extorting the government” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on February 1, 2016, a punishment issued in apparent retaliation for her petitioning activities. She is currently imprisoned at Jilin Provincial Women’s Prison. Ms. Xiao’s daughter and husband have learned of her worsening health condition through prison visits with Ms. Xiao over recent months.

Denial of medical parole

Ms. Xiao remains in prison despite clear signs of worsening health and her meeting criteria for release on medical parole. During visits with her daughter, Ms. Xiao has had great difficulty standing and almost fell several times, and has been unable to express herself clearly. Her daughter found that Ms. Xiao was itching severely, and may have had a bacterial nail condition. In November and December of 2016, Ms. Xiao was sent to the Jilin Provincial People’s Hospital for medical treatment, and was reportedly diagnosed as having Level 3 severe hypertension.

In consideration of Ms. Xiao’s poor health condition, the Jilin Women’s Provincial Prison submitted a letter on February 3, 2017, to the Justice Bureau of Tiedong District in Siping City, requesting that Ms. Xiao be granted medical parole so that she may receive treatment outside of prison. The request was based on regulations contained in China’s “Implementation Measures for Operations Outside Prisons” and “Implementation Measures for Community Corrections.” (The central bodies of the People’s Republic of China that issued these two regulations include the Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Justice, and National Health and Family Planning Commission.)

On February 21, Xiao’s daughter received a phone call from the Jilin Provincial Women’s Prison. A prison official notified her that the Tiedong District Justice Bureau had refused to grant the request for medical parole. The bureau reportedly provided its decision orally, and did not issue a response in writing.

Failed medical procedures and inadequate follow-up

While suffering from various ailments, Ms. Xiao had eye surgery performed (in a hospital chosen by the prison). However, the procedure has reportedly been ineffective, and no appropriate follow-up examinations or treatment have been administered.

On March 6, Ms. Xiao was admitted to Jilin Provincial People’s Hospital, as she was suffering from constant vomiting, acute glaucoma, and elevated intraocular pressure (a symptom of glaucoma). On March 14, Ms. Xiao underwent laser surgery on her left eye. During a prison visit on May 9, Ms. Xiao’s husband learned that her vision in that eye was still poor following the surgery, and that the prison had not returned her to the hospital for further examination, which the prison in April had indicated it would. According to her husband, doctors at the prison hospital told Ms. Xiao that surgery should be performed on her right eye, but she does not wish to have such a surgery, partly due to the poor result of the earlier procedure.

Relevant legal and human rights violations

Due to her health problems and old age, Ms. Xiao Yunling qualifies for release on medical grounds, according to “Measures for Carrying Out Medical Parole for Prisoners” (issued by the Ministry of Justice). In addition, China’s Criminal Law allows for humanitarian treatment and leniency for elderly prisoners over 70 years old, including eligibility for medical parole and suspended/reduced sentences.

Chinese authorities’ failure or refusal to provide adequate medical treatment and examination to Ms. Xiao constitutes ill-treatment. Depriving her of proper medical examination and follow-up, particularly after her eye surgery in March 2017, violates the “Administrative Measures for Life and Sanitation of Prison Inmates” (drafted by China’s Ministry of Justice in 2010 and subsequently put into a trial phase), which stipulate incarcerated individuals must be given physical health examinations and periodic check-ups. In addition, the “Regulations on Administrative Detention Facilities,” which also guarantees that incarcerated individuals in China be entitled to medical care, including physical examination, have not been enforced in Ms. Xiao’s case. The treatment of Ms. Xiao violates, among other international standards, the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Submission date: May 18, 2017

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