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Cablegate: Draft Amendments to Administrative Detention

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL CH
SUBJECT: DRAFT AMENDMENTS TO ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION
REGULATIONS

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 9, 2009 the Legislative
Affairs Office of the Chinese State Council released for
public comment proposed changes to regulations regarding
detainees under special administrative detention. The draft
contained a list of proposed changes that seemed to be aimed
at assuaging the growing criticism of Chinese security
officials in the wake of high-profile scandals involving
police shakedowns and brutality towards detainees.
Amendments include provisions addressing issues such as
detainee living quarters and informing detainees of their
rights. In the draft regulations, detainees are defined as
individuals under administrative detention by police or state
security agencies, the courts and immigration authorities.
The public comment period closed on November 30, 2009 and, to
date, the Chinese government has not indicated when the
regulations will be promulgated. End Summary.

Draft Regulations on Administrative
Detention Released
-----------------------------------

2. (SBU) On November 9, the Legislative Affairs Office of the
Chinese State Council released proposed changes to
regulations regarding the treatment of individuals under
special administrative detention in Chinese detention
facilities. The Ministry of Public Security reportedly
drafted the document in consultation with legal experts and
scholars in the wake of a number of high profile cases,
widely reported in the domestic Chinese media, of abuses of
petitioners, demonstrators and other administrative detainees
held in so-called "black jails." If ratified, these
regulations would replace the current Public Security
Administration Punishments Law that took effect March 1,
2006.

3. (SBU) For the purpose of the draft, detainees were defined
as individuals under special administrative detention by
police or state security agencies, persons given judicial
detention by a court, foreigners held under suspicion of
breaking China's border exit and entry laws and persons given
detention for breaking Chinese Law on Assemblies, Processions
and Demonstrations or Martial Law. The release of the draft
regulations was initially met by confusion among the media
and legal experts. Some western media outlets mistakenly
stated that the proposed changes would affect all individuals
taken into custody by police, state security agencies or
other agencies, to include those charged with criminal
offences.

4. (SBU) The proposed amendments would not apply to
individuals detained on routine criminal charges who make up
the majority of those individuals under police detention.
They also do not apply to those in the &Reform through
Labor8 system. A local legal expert told us that his office
had received numerous calls from other agencies confused by
the definition of the term "detainee."

New Regulations
---------------

5. (SBU) While the proposed regulations contain 39 clauses
and cover topics as varied as guidelines for detainees'
living quarters and release of detainees found to be wrongly
confined, some of the most significant provisions include
informing detainees of their rights upon being taken into
custody, clearly stating that police cannot charge detainees
for food or lodging, and prohibiting forced labor. The draft
also lays out procedures for notifying relatives or legal
counsel after persons are detained, granting temporary
release under limited circumstances, and handling the death
of a detainee.

Next Steps
----------

6. (SBU) After releasing the draft, the State Council asked
for public feedback on the proposed changes. A website,
mailing address and email address were established to collect
opinions and comments. A deadline of November 30, 2009, was
given for those wanting to respond. To date, the Chinese
government has neither released any information about the
number or nature of the responses that it received, nor
indicated when the regulations will be promulgated.
HUNTSMAN

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