A prominent Chinese dissident whose fate has been unknown since he was detained early last month is now reported to be under house arrest.
Liu Xiaobo is under “residential surveillance” at a secret location in Beijing, human rights groups say. The measure generally precedes a trial.
[…]Until now, nothing had been heard of the former professor since his detention by police on 8 December.
But fellow activist Jiang Qisheng told AFP news agency on Friday that Mr Liu was being held in pre-trial detention “somewhere in the suburbs of Beijing”, adding: “I don’t know exactly where.”
Joshua Rosenzweig of the Dui Hua Foundation and Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch have defined the concept “residential surveillance” in a legal analysis of Liu’s detention. Via China Law Prof Blog:
“Residential surveillance” (监视居住): Decision issued from PSB (not police station), read to suspect, suspect required to sign or otherwise acknowledge. Under this status, suspect cannot leave residence or designated dwelling without permission, meet with anyone other than his lawyer, is required to appear when summoned for questioning, and is prohibited from tampering with witnesses or destroying evidence. Surveillance period cannot exceed six months. No formal notification to family is required.
In theory, “residential surveillance” should take place at one’s residence (thus meaning there is little need for family to be notified). However, in practice police have often stretched the provisions of the law and applicable regulations and held suspects in guest houses or other locations. (This is illegal when the suspect has a residence that could otherwise be used for this purpose.) According to a SPC interpretation, “residential surveillance” under such circumstances constitutes “deprivation of liberty” and, therefore, the length of time spent under such surveillance must be counted as “time served” in any eventual sentence. However, the lack of requirement for notification appears to be a major loophole.