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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

China Considering a New Law Permitting Detentions of Up to Six Months

Opinio Juris brings another out of the ordinary post, this time from Kevin Jon Heller. This post calls attention to a proposed new law in China permitting detentions for up to six months. The post contrast China’s proposed new law to international law prohibiting "enforced disappearance of persons." Here are key excerpts from the news article:

"Chinese police will gain new legal powers to detain suspects for up to six months without telling their families where or why they are held, according to a state newspaper’s account of planned reforms.

Human rights activists and legal scholars warned that the change would legitimise an alarming pattern of detentions under the residential surveillance law, which was initially intended as a less punitive measure than formal detention.

Most of those who went missing in a crackdown on activists, dissidents and lawyers this year were taken to secret locations chosen by police. They were held for weeks or even months under residential surveillance. The law does not specify that relatives must be informed, presumably because it was assumed suspects would be held at their homes. In comparison, police must inform relatives within 24 hours of detention and must seek prosecutors’ approval for arrest within 30 days."

The Opinio Juris posts addressing civil rights are striking reminders of the value and relative rarity of the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. The posts also highlight the struggle to mesh concepts of law and justice with the varying conditions in different nations.

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