July 25, 2021

Within the Chinese Communist Party, discretionary police powers

Maintaining discipline and combating corruption within the Communist Party of China is the prerogative of the Party’s Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CCIDP), which in recent years has led to the detention for investigation of hundreds of thousands of executives – brought to justice and then, in 95% of cases, sentenced after several days or even months of shuanggui, or “double detention”, that is to say a solitary confinement by the inspectors of the party for interrogations, in a place known only to them, without any judicial supervision.

This internal police force – which is also an ideal tool for political purging – was enlarged in 2018: a constitutional amendment then established the National Supervisory Commission (CNS), endowed with the power to potentially keep in liuzhi (“Retention”) 300 million Chinese, that is to say the 90 million members of the party but also the civil servants and any person employed in a structure which provides a service to the public (schools, hospitals…). The discretionary powers of detention and interrogation remain more or less the same: the suspect may be detained for up to six months, kept in solitary confinement, without a lawyer, and with no real possibility of appeal.

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In 2019, the NGO Safeguard Defenders sent the relevant offices of the United Nations Human Rights Council a first report on the new practice, which it denounces as giving rise to large-scale enforced disappearances and to widespread torture.

“Systematic violations of human rights”

In a new document published on Tuesday, June 29, the NGO accuses the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), located in Vienna, of having signed an agreement with the CNS in October 2019. And above all to refuse to make it public. Because the CNS welcomed this “Operational cooperation”. “UNODC is supposed to promote judicial cooperation among member states, but here it cooperates and assists an extrajudicial body, which commits systematic and widespread human rights violations,” maintient Safeguard Defenders.

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The implications are vast: for several years, China has carried out a vast investigation and repatriation operation involving “Fugitives” Chinese people around the world, using all kinds of pressure tactics – sometimes on families. For example, official 2018 data indicates that 1,335 fugitives were “recovered” by China – only 17 of which resorted to extradition. The official statistics on “retentions” practiced by the CNS are fragmentary: the NGO found figures for only 13 provinces from 2018 to 2020, indicating 5,909 “retentions”. Extrapolating to other provinces, it estimates that around 29,000 individuals may have been subjected to this form of detention since October 2019, and 52,000 since the CNS took office.

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