Tag Archives: Justice

In Brief: Independent Website Allows Netizens to Report Corruption

Check it out while you can, because I can’t imagine this is going to last long. “He took bribes” is a new, apparently independent website that allows users in China to report instances of bribery, corruption, and other official malfeasance.

The site is apparently based on a similar Indian site. On it, net users can report instances of corruption and search for reports of corruption by location. According to the site’s own description:

“‘He Took Bribes’ is a non-profit public interest site that opposes corruption and greed and provides users with a convenient platform for reporting cases. We will examine and verify reports that are submitted, weed out malicious and random reports, and then with other cases, in accordance with local procedures, we will submit them to local prosecutors in the most direct fashion possible. After local prosecution organs have confirmed the information, we will publicly publish the details of the story and the result of the report [on the site].”

This comes in the wake of several similar sites constructed by the government. I can recall at least two official government sites of this type, but both of them crashed almost immediately following their launch because they received far more traffic than the government was expecting and their servers simply couldn’t handle it.

I can’t imagine an independent site like this could last long. It’s designed far better than either of the official sites, and it’s gotten over 2 million hits already (it has only been online for a few days). Reportedly, it’s not currently blocked in China, but how long could an independent site like this last? Corruption, I suspect, is too explosive an issue for the the government to allow any kind of reporting mechanism that they can’t control.

Still, only time will tell. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this site, and will update when I can provide more detail. I’ve also reached out to the site’s creator for comment and will update if I can get a response.

Li Chunhua is Back Home!

You may remember the name Li Chunhua from one of our previous posts, “Return My Sister Li Chunhua!” It’s been a while, so here’s the gist of it, from our July 4th translation:

At 1:00 A.M. on June 26th, Li Shulian and Li Chunhua (ordinary Shandong women who went to Beijing to appeal to authorities) [were kidnapped] by Longkou City Court officials and thugs from the local government. More than ten armed men broke into the room the women were renting in Beijing and kidnapped them, dragging them out naked and taking them back to Shandong. Li Shulian risked her life trying to escape and return to Beijing to report [this], but…hasn’t seen so much as a shadow of her sister. As of July 3rd, Shulian was inquiring everywhere, but still found no trace.

[…]

She’s from Longkou, Yantai, Shandong, living in the Lutou township behind the temple. This year, she is 49 years old. Because her husband was beaten so badly he became mentally disabled, she felt the police had handled things unfairly and sought an audience [with higher authorities in Shandong].

On April 5, 2007, she was illegally detained for seeking to report this. Afterwards, she began writing requests and appeals via the internet, but the situation never was resolved.

On the morning of June 2nd, 2008, she went to the provincial Public Security Hall to report again, but was rejected for “not listening patiently to the worker’s explanation, and instead shouting loudly. Also blocking the complainants’ window, attracting a crowd, and seriously interfering with order in the P.S.H.” and escorted back to Longkou, where she was punished with seven days of “administrative detention”.

When Li Chunhua was being detained, her toes were bound with wire, she was shackled to an iron chair and then tortured using electrocution!

This time, when Li Chunhua was going to Beijing to report to the authorities, she was trying to report them for illegally using electricity to torture a citizen!

The good news is that according to this post by Wang Keqin, Li Chunhua is home now (our translation):

At 11:00 P.M. on October 5th, I got in contact with Li Chunhua and Wang Shouxian. They told me they are already home.

They explained that on the morning of the 5th at around 3:30 A.M., they were taken from the Baiwang Hostel near the newspaper office and brought to the Pingxi government substation in Changping district. At the substation, they were closed in a room, but were not interrogated, just guarded by two men.

At around 7 A.M., three workers from the Longkou-Beijing Government Bureau, complaints office, and PSB (two men, one woman in total) came to the substation and, using a minibus, took the Li Chunhua and Wang Shouxian back to Longkou. On the ride back, the two weren’t interrogated. In fact, the workers didn’t even speak to them.

At around 6 P.M., the bus arrived in the Beima township in Longkou and Wang Shouxian was taken to the PSB substation there. At perhaps 8:00 P.M., Wang Shouxian arrived home safely.

Not long after, Li Chunhua was taken to the Lutou substation. There, she was questioned a bit more, for example [they asked] “why were you reporting the authorities”, etc. etc., and was told that bypassing the immediate authorities and going straight to the top was illegal. After, she was released. Relatively late in the day, Li Chunhua got home.

We don’t see a lot of good news about this kind of stuff. Here’s hoping Li Chunhua has seen the last of her troubles, and that she ultimately finds some justice — or perhaps has already found it — for her poor husband.

“Hitting Others’ Cars, Beating People”

Via Zhaomu’s blog, an account of chengguan attacking and beating traffic police in Hankou:

Translation

“That group of people was very fierce, after beating the traffic police, they said they were going to kill me!” a PSB officer told a reporter yesterday afternoon […] remembering the event, he still feels afraid.

He said it happened the night of the 20th at around 9:45: “An upscale white car crashed into the proprietor’s bus, and were discovered as they planned to leave.” In the gateway to the district, their car was blocked by the PSB. After a while, people came from the upscale car and a similar-looking van; they came to the sentry post and tried to force open the railing [that was blocking their car in]. PSB [officers] stopped them again. “There were no markings on that car, but “chengguan” was written on the side of the van,” according to a PSB officer who was there.

When chengguan come out, no one dares oppose
"When chengguan come out, no one dares oppose"

At this time, a black car stopped behind the chengguan van, and out of this car came a uniformed traffic police officer. After consulting with the PSB officers, he pointed to the chengguan car and indicated they should accept [the way the PSB] dealt with [the situation].

“They started arguing, and four or five people got out of the chengguan vehicle and started pushing the traffic policeman.” An eyewitness said the people from the chengguan van forced the traffic policeman into a corner of the sentry post and began to kick and beat him. They also tore off his shoulder loop, and smashed his walkie-talkie. “They beat [him] for five or six minutes.”

[…]

The reporter gathered that the traffic policeman who was beaten was the vice president of the Wuhan traffic department (river bank region) Chen Jianhua. After Chen was sent to the hospital and examined, it was discovered that there were many external injuries and several large swollen bumps on his head.

[…]

According to the reports of PSB officers from that district, after the assault, the chengguan forced their way into the sentry post and pushed down the button [to release the bar that was blocking their car in], then quickly drove away. They ran [but] one slower person was caught by Chen Jianhua. Soon after, the People’s Police came and quickly took him away.

Jianghan District, Evergreen St.’s office in charge of chengguan confirmed the incident was entirely true. He said that there were eight chengguan on the scene that day, and that except for one named Yang, all seven had cooperated and six have already been arrested by the police. He admitted that the car causing the trouble was from the chengguan department.

[…]

“When changing vehicles, the [chengguan] also changed drivers several times,” said an eyewitness. When the conflict was happening, he said that many of those doing the beating smelled strongly of alcohol […] that night, the other seven [chengguan had been] at Yang’s house drinking, but this has not been confirmed by the official department.

“An Open Letter to the Kunming M.P.C. Secretary”

The following is a translation of this post by Li Yinhe.

Dear Kunming Municipal Party Committee Complaints Secretary,

I want to discuss with you the Kunming Elementary School student prostitution case, the Chen Yan prostitution case that followed it, and the father-accommodated prostitution case. According to my analysis of the interviews of reporters, there are large suspicious aspects of all three of these correlated cases, they may all be cases of injustice.

The first case: the prostitution of Liu Nuonuo (age 15), and Liu Tingting (age 13).
This case has already been judged by police as having been factually unsubstantiated, and as a result, six officers have been suspended from duty and a public notification has been made.

The second case: the prostitution of Chen Yan (age 16).
The Yunnan News reported on June 3rd that several days after the virgin girls [i.e. Liu Nuonuo and Liu Tingting] sold themselves, their father Liu Shihua asked for a large sum in compensation, enraging the police. Using the [alleged] prostitution of Chen Yan as an excuse, they brought the whole family into the police substation, and after extorting confessions for a week came to the result of Chen Yan having been a prostitute.

Why do I suspect that the Chen Yan’s prostitution case is an example of injustice? Because I saw this bit of dialogue between her and a reporter:

Reporter: Do you know what ‘standing in the street’ [i.e., prostitution] is? Have you ever ‘stood in the street’?
Chen Yan: Yes. I was waiting for friends. Sometimes we can’t all arrive at the same time, so I stood in the street to wait for them. Some times we walk in the street together, a large group of people, but when we stop to eat barbecue we are also standing in the street while we eat.
Reporter: Have you ‘had relations’ [i.e., had sex] with anyone before?
Chen Yan: I will have fun with friends from society, eat barbecue, sing karaoke, and have a lot of fun so I’m very happy. When I have an especially good impression, I have had relations but never accepted any money.

In my opinion, a 16 year-old who doesn’t even know what ‘standing in the street’ means is very unlikely to have engaged in prostitution.

The third case: Liu Shihua [the father] accommodating this prostitution.
On the morning of June 29th, a reporter accompanied two reporters in a visit with Liu Shihua as he was awaiting trial. He had already been locked up for three weeks and when he saw the lawyers he was “so excited his hands were shaking”. He told the lawyers he denied having accommodated prostitution. His deposition in the police station was forced out of him. He said that the police said if he just admitted to having accommodated the prostitution of his daughter, the whole family could be released.

Reporter: Why did you admit your eldest daughter had engaged in prostitution?
Liu Shihua: If I didn’t admit it, the whole family would be locked up. I don’t want my family to endure hardship.

From the above we can see that there are large suspicious aspects of these cases, and that they may be injustices.

Secretary, I have often heard you are known as an honest and fair official. If injustice happens under your watch, no matter how complex the details of the case, no matter the motives of the perpetrators, I think you will definitely investigate it until the end, and definitely have the ability to bring the truth to light in future injustice cases.

Right now, the nationwide media is all focused on this case. It has already gone from a small case of a small police station browbeating a small commoner to a big case that touches on the the fair administration of justice, the image of the police, and the image of the government. Please, even though you are busy, take some time to look into this case. I hope the case is dealt with fairly.

Li Yinhe, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Guest Post: Justice.cn

The following is a guest post written and translated by K. Drinhausen.

The first few months of this year of “online politics” saw a tech-savvy Wen Jiabao chatting with the online community and a series of praise for netizens and their ability to uncover corruption as well as deficits in the legal system and criminal prosecution. While government actions like integrating netizens in investigative and administrative processes may have seemed like publicity stunts, it still suggested a stronger participation of the public in bringing about a more just and open society.

But lawyers and jurists have long raised concerns about those “public justice movements”, including the legally disputable “human flesh searches”. The twists and turns in the recent case of Deng Yujiao and the questionable outcome that was attributed to the strong public interest in the case (Deng Yujiao was found guilty of using excessive force but was still released) further heated up the discussion.

One of the much cited commentators was He Weifang, a former law professor at Beijing University. In a blog entry (also published in China Weekly) he takes a look at the difficult relation between the power of the internet and the judiciary system. While his arguments about the pros and cons of online vigilantism have also been brought up in other places, his observations on the inner dynamics and self destructiveness of these interactions prove to be of special interest. An interesting analysis especially in the light of the recent wave of harmonization…

Translation: Challenges to the Judiciary in the Age of the Internet

It doesn’t matter if you like it or not, the public discourse has doubtlessly entered the age of the internet. More and more people depend on the internet for receiving and disseminating any kind of information. The internet is where journalists are gathering clues for stories. Even in the remotest city and the smallest internet cafe people are exposing “bad news” to the world that the traditional media are trying to keep under the lid. Millions of bloggers are watching over this land of free speech, where neologisms like “push-ups” and “hide & seek” are emerging one after another. While these might originate on the internet, they are passed on to hundreds of millions by word of mouth.

And what a strange place it is! When you publish articles online, there are no longer the seemingly insurmountable difficulties you had to face in the traditional media, where quite often your pieces would be distorted beyond recognition by editors. Nowadays you press “submit” when you finished writing, and in an instant an article appears [lit.: transverses space and comes into this world]. And the emphasis should be on “coming into this world” as each [piece of information] can actually be seen in every corner of the world. This process of publishing information has become so easy that the popular will is virtually unfolding in front of everyone’s eyes and the caution and slowness that characterized the gone-by era of the written word are fading away.

But everything seems to change to an extent, where instead a lack of responsibility in the open discourse becomes a public trend. Some incidents that hit the public nerve will instantaneously evoke public rage and indignation. The reoccurring uproars of millions and millions of netizens in this albeit virtual space can give you a very real kind of feeling: “Masses shouting in unison: Kill!”

These situations are exerting huge pressure on the responsible decision makers. In this context, the interaction between the public discourse on the internet and the judicial system proofs to be of special significance. In past discussions of the relation between media and the judicature we devoted ourselves to determining basic sets of rules on three different levels:

1. How can supervision trough media be strengthened in the implementation of the law? The judicial power is a public power that the state exercises. Therefore the judiciary must be accountable to the citizens and subject itself to public supervision. Otherwise it will – like any unconditioned power – become vulnerable to abuse. In the ongoing process of promoting a modern form of democracy it becomes apparent, that in a time where the administration is becoming more and more specialized, active media can reveal shifts in the power structure and its influences as well as display the opinion of the people. Thus it can function as an effective restrain for official power.

2. But it is also essential to prevent the media from overstepping their boundaries to uphold the necessary independence of the judiciary. If the public opinion as expressed in the media becomes too powerful, or considers itself to be truth itself, or stirs up the popular will and thus exerts pressure on the judicial system, it can lead to a point where it is really the media that passes judgment on a case.

3. How can the judiciary system in reverse protect the freedom of expression and publication not only through relevant laws in the constitution but also in judicial interpretation and trials?

The kind of supervision over the judicial power that can be exercised through the internet is clearly much more rigorous and candid than in the traditional media. And this really is a welcome development. It is fair to say that without the massive power of the internet, cases like that of Sun Zhigang could not have been brought to the conclusion they finally got.

But at the same time the double sidedness of the media has become even more apparent in the age of the internet: While in some cases it can lead to a rather impartial trial, it also exerts a lot of pressure on the legal system and can thus force it to bow to the public opinion. [These processes] intensify the deviation between the dispensation of justice in the court and the principles of the law, thereby weakening the public credibility of the judiciary system. This again leads to a further marginalization of the judicial power. But expecting such a judicature – that is at a loss as to what to do and gets blamed for whatever it attempts – to safeguard the rights of freedom guaranteed by the constitution for its citizens is just not realistic.

Some are hoping to limit these “irresponsible” expressions of opinion trough a stronger control of the freedom of speech on the internet. But schemes like this obviously come at a high price and are easily misused.

First of all, administering the internet is simply not like regulating the traditional media. Every second there is a steady flow of different opinions pouring in, like a circle of life that can’t be stopped in its course. Deletion will stay an incomplete and insufficient option. Moreover, what kind of “opinion” should be deleted or not be deleted? Since adequate regulations can hardly be set beforehand, [these decisions] will be left to the obscure judgment of various departments. But different interpretations of the pronounced standards can easily lead to a severe imbalance in the amount [of information] deleted. Under the pressure of finding offences, the responsible administrators instinctively tend to be overtly strict when it comes to closing [sites], with a result that will most likely rather resemble “a massacre and slaughter of the innocent at will”.

But wiping out valuable discourses will turn the internet – a place that should be full of vitality – into a desolate wasteland. And in such an environment the supervision of the judiciary trough the media will inevitably become a meaningless phrase. But, as stated earlier, without supervision an impartial judicature cannot exist. So in the end it will be the same restrictions imposed on the freedom of speech that were originally intended to reduce the pressure on the judiciary that will ultimately lead to an even more unjust system. You could say it “started as a nobleman, but ended like a crook”.

The bottom line is: The root of the problem does not lie in the popular will itself, but in the lack of judiciary independence. Independence means that the court takes the constitutional law as it’s only guiding principle in its decisions, without fearing any other kind of power or having to listen to the public opinion that can vary widely from case to case.

Let’s suppose a judge decides a case according to the law but the outcome is not in accordance with the public opinion. Then what should be thoroughly discussed is how the legislative body can revise the law itself to ensure that it represents the interest of the citizens. But if you let the judge abandon the law in favor of the popular will in his decisions, this will inevitably lead to a state of confusion in the dispensation of justice.

While in some of the cases that generate wide-scale debate, the judge or court are spared from guessing and interpreting what the public opinion might want, all these incidents on the internet eventually will “gang up” and gain territory. Then a “just and fair” judicature will even more resemble an empty phrase.

The paradox is that our judiciary system is obviously doing its utmost to gain the respect of the public, even to the point where passing a sentence like the death penalty is dependent on the public opinion. But the gushing arrival of the public opinion is again fearfully avoided – although it is too late. This makes you think of two idioms: The new expression ” Not acknowledge ones mistakes till the end ” and the old saying ” Profess love of what one really fears “.

Background

In 2008 He Weifang demanded the abolition of the much criticized petition system. After he signed the Charter 08 he was “transferred” to Xinjiang, where he enjoys the landscape and has more time for writing and updating his blog.