Legalizing the Tools of Repression

Reports emerged on Monday that long-feared changes writing enforced disappearances into China’s Criminal Procedure Law may be dropped. On Twitter, however, Human Rights Watch’s Nicholas Bequelin warned again that the relevant clauses’ removal was not a foregone conclusion:

Bequelin describes this battle and its participants in greater detail in a New York Times op-ed:

The more progressive-minded factions of the Communist Party and the government consider legal reforms to be integral to China’s modernization. They see enlightened self-interest in giving a greater role to the rule of law, and reforming the criminal code to offer due-process rights that resemble international norms is a key part of this effort.

The other camp is made up of the powerful security apparatus and the more conservative and hard-line elements in the party and the government. This faction has become increasingly powerful since it was assigned the leading role for the security of the 2008 Beijing Olympics ….

Both camps have made their mark on the draft of the new criminal-procedure law ….

The rise of the national security faction is one of the most foreboding trends in China. Whether Article 73 is adopted or not will signal a great deal about whether China is making progress toward the rule of law or solidifying the supremacy of the security state.