Tags: china | black jails | detain | complainers

China's 'Black Jails': Facilities Detaining Complainers Out of Favor

By    |   Wednesday, 06 February 2013 10:45 AM

In an unprecedented sign of disapproval, a Beijing court sentenced 10 men to prison for illegally detaining citizens in what is known as a "black jail," Chinese state media reported.

The move signals an official crackdown on the practice of maintaining black jails, extralegal facilities financed by municipal officials and used mostly to silence petitioners without a trial, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Police often turn a blind eye to the illegal facilities, according to the Monitor, and the court's decision to convict the 10 men has never been seen before.

The 10 convicted men had been hired by the local government in the central province of Henan to run the black jail. They had seized and detained 11 who made their way to Beijing with petitions to do something about their complaints.

The Beijing court said those convicted violated the petitioners' rights, according to Al-Jazeera. The right to petition a complaint in China has been an important factor in the country's government proceedings for thousands of years.

The Al-Jazeera report said it was the first time the national government acknowledged the existence of black jails. A local media report of the trial was initially removed from the internet, according to China Daily.

Officials use black jails to protect their reputations, as well as the government, by preventing the surfacing of complaints. The officials hire "retrievers," like the 10 men convicted Tuesday, to kidnap and detain those seeking reform in Beijing. Black jails have also been used to silence political and religious dissenters.

"This certainly does not go to the root of the problem, because what is lacking is democracy and checks and balances at the local level, so that the local government understand that they have to observe the law and respect the rights of the people," Joseph Cheng, a law professor at the City University of Hong Kong, told Al Jazeera.

The sentences for the 10 convicted men ranges from six months to two years.

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In an unprecedented move, a court in China has signaled a crackdown on "black jails," extralegal facilities financed by municipal officials and used to detain petitioners with complaints.
china,black jails,detain,complainers
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 10:45 AM
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