China Inaugurates Legal Semi-Secret Detention

Zhu Chengzhi may have become the first to be detained under new amendments to China’s Criminal Procedure Law. Amid fierce criticism, the changes passed through the National People’s Congress by a vote of 2,639 to 160 in March last year, and came into effect on New Year’s Day. The new Article 73 allows some prisoners to be held in an undisclosed location for up to six months without access to a lawyer, but does require that families be notified of their detention. From Sui-Lee Wee at Reuters: Authorities in Shaoyang city in central Hunan province told family members of Zhu Chengzhi, 62, last Friday that he would be put under “residential surveillance” under “Article 73”, Zhu’s wife, Zeng Qiulian, told Reuters by telephone on Monday. Article 73 legalizes detaining people in secret. […] Article 73 legalizes a practice that began in earnest in 2011. Fearing that anti-authoritarian uprisings across the Arab world could inspire challenges to Communist rule, the government unlawfully held dozens of activists, including artist Ai Weiwei, for weeks or months in secret detention. […] Police had charged Zhu with “incitement to subvert state power” after he posted photos online following the death of his friend, Li Wangyang, who was found in a hospital ward in Shaoyang, his neck tied with a noose made from cotton bandages. Authorities said it was suicide – a verdict that angered thousands of scholars, lawyers and activists. See more on Li’s case via CDT. Zhu had already been held for over six months since his detention on June 9th, days after Li’s death. A fuller account of Zhu’s story is available at the Dui Hua Human Rights Journal: Public criticism over the “disappearance clauses” may have ultimately contributed to some salutary changes to the legislation, including the removal of exemptions for providing ...
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