The Middle Kingdom Strikes Back: New Criminal Procedure Law Conforms with International Law
Apropos of Kevin’s post below criticizing China’s new criminal procedure law amendments, it is worth noting that some Chinese legal scholars are defending the consistency of such laws with international treaties.
China’s draft amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law will further help protect human rights, and conforms rather than contradicts international conventions, legal experts in Beijing have said.
The experts made the remarks in response to doubts cast by international media outlets on an article in the draft submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, last week. These outlets contend that the article violates international conventions and international law.
Article 73 of the draft provides that, in cases involving crimes regarding national security, terrorism or serious cases of bribery, the defendants or suspects can be put under residential surveillance in places outside their own homes if residential surveillance at the home of the suspect or defendant is likely to hinder an ongoing investigation.
The draft amendment does not violate international conventions. Instead, it is in line with the purposes of international law that advocate the protection of suspects’ rights by using the fewest compulsory measures possible in criminal procedure, he said.
Legislation in China is becoming more humane, with greater attention being paid to the protection of citizens’ civil rights and an increasingly cautious approach to the use of compulsory measures, Wang said.
Their analysis doesn’t sound very convincing but it could very well be the translation. In any event, I haven’t seen the draft law (anyone want to post it?), but I agree with Kevin that it could very well violate norms against arbitrary detentions and “disappearances.” And I wholeheartedly agree with other critics that there is strong evidence China is already engaging in widespread practices of arbitrary detentions and disappearances, even without this law. The question for critics of China here should be: Is this new law better than the old non-legal system? Probably somewhat better, but definitely not good enough is my guess. But it is still worth looking at the text of the actual new law before jumping to conclusions.