Annual Report: China 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: China 2013

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  • In May, the authorities rescinded the death sentence imposed on business woman Wu Ying for “fraudulently raising funds”, adding to debates about the abolition of capital punishment for economic crimes.

Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law would allow the Supreme People’s Court to amend death sentences in all cases. These would make it mandatory to record or videotape interrogations of suspects potentially facing the death penalty or life imprisonment. The amendments would require the courts, prosecutors and the police to notify legal aid offices to assign a defence lawyer to all criminal suspects and defendants who face potential death sentences or life imprisonment and who have not yet appointed legal counsel. Chinese legal scholars called for legal aid to be assured at all stages of a criminal process which may lead to the death penalty.

In November, the authorities announced that a voluntary organ donation system would be launched nationwide in early 2013 to phase out reliance on organs removed from executed prisoners.

Housing rights – forced evictions

Sudden and violent evictions were widespread, and were typically preceded by threats and harassment. Consultation with affected residents was rare. Compensation, adequate alternative housing and the ability to access legal remedies were severely limited. In many cases, corrupt village leaders signed deals with private developers, handing over land without residents knowing. Those who peacefully resisted forced eviction or sought to protect their rights through legal channels risked detention, imprisonment and RTL. Some resorted to drastic measures, setting themselves on fire or resorting to violent forms of protest.

Enforcement of the 2011 Regulations on the Expropriation of Houses on State-owned Land and Compensation remained weak. The Regulations outlawed the use of violence in urban evictions and granted urban home-owners facing eviction limited protections. In November, the State Council put forward to the National People’s Congress proposed draft amendments to the 1986 Land Administration Law. Revisions to the law were expected to provide legal protections against forced eviction and increased compensation to rural residents.

  • The authorities continued to demolish houses in Shiliuzhuang village, Beijing, between April and August. Some demolitions took place at 5am and without advance notice. The residents were not offered alternative housing and some received no compensation for their loss. The residents said they were not genuinely consulted, and some said they had been beaten and briefly detained in the run-up to the eviction.

Tibet Autonomous Region

The authorities continued to repress Tibetans’ right to enjoy and promote their own culture as well as their rights to freedom of religion, expression, peaceful association and assembly. Socioeconomic discrimination against ethnic Tibetans persisted unchecked. During the year, at least 83 ethnic Tibetan monks, nuns and lay people set themselves on fire, bringing the total number of self-immolations in Tibetan populated areas in China to at least 95 since February 2009.

  • At least three men were sentenced to up to seven and a half years in prison in separate cases for passing on information about cases of self-immolation to overseas organizations and media.

Numerous people allegedly involved in anti-government protests were beaten, detained, subjected to enforced disappearance or sentenced following unfair trials. At least two people were believed to have died because of injuries sustained from police beatings.

  • In January, security forces reportedly shot at Tibetan protesters in three different incidents in Sichuan province, killing at least one and injuring many others.

The authorities used “patriotic” and “legal education” campaigns to force Tibetans to denounce the Dalai Lama. Officials increased their interference in management of monasteries and expelled monks.

Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR)

The authorities maintained their “strike hard” campaign, criminalizing what they labelled “illegal religious” and “separatist” activities, and clamping down on peaceful expressions of cultural identity.