- On the occasion of a February 26 workshop in Beijing on the punishment of minor crimes, HRIC issued a report analyzing the current status of administrative detention under Reeducation Through Labor, and calling for the elimination of this form of arbitrary detention. (See page 34) The workshop was the first activity in the program of technical cooperation on human rights between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chinese government launched late last year. HRICs report warned that plans to reform RTL by enacting it into law would not address the serious human rights violations involved.
- On February 27, HRIC sent a letter to members of the National Peoples Congress (NPC) urging them to put reform of the criminal justice system at the top of the agenda for the assemblys session, focusing in particular on further revisions of the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), which was last revised in 1996. On the first day of the assemblys session, March 5, HRIC released a detailed report on this topic, Empty Promises: Human Rights Protections and Chinas Criminal Procedure Law in Practice. Based on three years of investigation, HRICs report shows that the authorities appear to have been unwilling to allow the limited safeguards in the revised CPL to have a significant impact on protecting rights in practice, and have also refused to act to remedy deficiencies in areas where further reforms are very evidently needed.
- ln advance of UN Secretary General Kofi Annans visit to China from January 20 to 22, HRIC sent him a letter highlighting our current concerns about human rights. The letter asked Annan to urge the Chinese government to cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteurs and highlighted what HRIC sees as the primary cause of many of the abuses occurring in the China today: official impunity for rights violations.
- On February 13, HRIC issued an open letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to urge the IOC to raise the issue of the policy of Custody and Repatriation (C&R) with the Chinese government during their site inspection visit to Beijing in February. Targets of this policy include the homeless, street children, prostitutes, the mentally ill, and migrant workers. HRIC believes that if arbitrary detention under C&R is not eliminated and China gets the Games, its use in the run up to the event will be extensive.
- On March 15, HRIC sent an open letter to the European Union (EU), as it was about to determine the position it would take on the China resolution at the UN Commission on Human Rights in a General Affairs Council meeting convened on March 19. HRIC urged the EU member states to base their position on a careful assessment of Chinas implementation of internationally-guaranteed rights, rather than on Beijings tactical moves on the diplomatic stage, and urged them to co-sponsor the China resolution.
- On March 19, HRIC co-signed a letter with six other international human rights organizations (Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, International Labor Rights Fund, Center for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Campaign for Tibet and Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) to urge the new Bush administration to take action on China in Geneva this year.
- In March, HRIC called on President Bush to raise concern about the case of Dr. Gao Zhan, a mainland born scholar living in the United States, who has been detained in Beijing since February 11. Gao, her husband, Xue Donghua, and their son Andrew were stopped as they were about to leave Beijing following a three-week visit. Xue and Andrew were held for 26 days and then allowed to leave for the United States. Despite warnings from the Chinese government that he should remain silent about his wifes detention, Xue has spoken out about her situation and the detention of himself and Andrew. HRIC has continued to appeal for Gaos legal rights to be respected.
- On January 27, HRICs annual meeting of its Board of Directors was held to discuss HRICs focus in 2001, program issues and revisions to the organizations by-laws. Thirty-five board members attended the one-day session, and there was a lively debate over strategy. Board members provided valuable guidance to the direction of HRIC in terms of policy and research goals, among other issues.
HRIC is very grateful for the assistance during this quarter of interns and volunteers Magdalena Koterba, Michelle Karina Lopez, Vicky Boyle and Ingveig Tveranger.