State-run Magazine Reports on Black Jails in China

The existence of “black jails,” used to detain petitioners from around the country, has long been documented by human rights groups. Now, the Chinese magazine Liaowang [Outlook], published by Xinhua, has run an expose on the jails. From AP:

For some activist groups, the two state-sanctioned articles published Tuesday signal a possible willingness by the Communist leadership to openly acknowledge a problem it has long denied.

“They have categorically denied there are even black jails. This is the first time an official, high-level magazine acknowledges that they exist. This is fairly significant,” said Wang Songlian, research coordinator with the China-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

[…] “Coverage in Outlook can be viewed as a direct reflection of decision-making within the central party, and it would certainly be carefully considered,” said David Bandurski, an expert on Chinese media at the University Of Hong Kong. “So it is fair to say that party elites are trying to send a message through this coverage of the issue of black jails.”

But he cautioned that it remains unclear what that message is and what the government ultimately intends to do.

November 25, 2009 11:35 PM
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Categories: Human Rights, Law, Politics