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Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013/China/Tibet/Hong Kong/Macau

2014. április 2./www.state.gov/TibetPress

www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/

 CHINA (INCLUDES TIBET, HONG KONG, AND MACAU)

2013 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian state in which
the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) constitutionally is the paramount
authority. CCP members hold almost all top government and security
apparatus positions. Ultimate authority rests with the 25-member
Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CCP and its seven-member Standing
Committee. China completed its once-in-a-decade leadership transition in
March, and Xi Jinping holds the three most powerful positions as CCP
general secretary, state president, and chairman of the Central Military
Commission. Civilian authorities generally maintained control of the
military and internal security forces. Security forces committed human
rights abuses.

Repression and coercion, particularly against organizations and
individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy and public
interest issues, ethnic minorities, and law firms that took on sensitive
cases, were routine. Increasingly officials employed harassment,
intimidation, and prosecution of family members and associates to
retaliate against rights advocates and defenders. Individuals and groups
seen as politically sensitive by authorities continued to face tight
restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel.
Authorities resorted to extralegal measures such as enforced
disappearance and strict house arrest, including house arrest of family
members, to prevent public expression of independent opinions.
Authorities implemented new measures to control and censor the internet
and particularly targeted bloggers with large numbers of followers,
leading some to close their online accounts. Public-interest law firms
continued to face harassment, disbarment of legal staff, and closure.
There was severe official repression of the freedoms of speech, religion,
association, and assembly of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur
Autonomous Region (XUAR) and of ethnic Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous
Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas. These minorities also faced harsh
restrictions on movement. Abuses peaked around high-profile events, such
as the visit of foreign officials, national meetings, and commemorations.
As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their
government, and citizens had limited forms of redress against official
abuse. Other human rights problems during the year included extrajudicial
killings, including executions without due process; enforced
disappearance and incommunicado

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detention, including prolonged illegal detentions at unofficial holding
facilities known as “black jails”; torture and coerced confessions of
prisoners; detention and harassment of lawyers, journalists, writers,
bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others who sought to exercise
peacefully their rights under the law; a lack of due process in judicial
proceedings; political control of courts and judges; closed trials; the
use of administrative detention; restrictions on freedom to assemble,
practice religion, and travel; failure to protect refugees and asylum
seekers; pressure on other countries to return PRC citizens forcibly;
widespread corruption; intense scrutiny of and restrictions on
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); discrimination against women,
minorities, and persons with disabilities; a coercive birth-limitation
policy that in some cases resulted in forced abortion (sometimes at
advanced stages of pregnancy) or forced sterilization; trafficking in
persons; prohibitions on independent unions; lack of protection for
workers’ right to strike; forced and child labor; and poor enforcement of
wage, overtime, and occupational safety and health laws.
Although authorities prosecuted a number of abuses of power, particularly
with regard to corruption, in many cases the internal disciplinary
procedures of the CCP were opaque and only selectively applied to senior
officials. Citizens who promoted efforts to combat corruption were
themselves detained and arrested. For example, throughout the year, NGO
sources reported that authorities arrested at least 29 persons associated
with the New Citizens Movement on charges stemming from activities to
promote good governance.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom
from:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
During the year security forces reportedly committed arbitrary or
unlawful killings. In many instances few or no details were available.
It was not clear to what extent impunity was a problem. Following cases
of killings by police, there often was an announcement that an
investigation was to be conducted, but it was not clear whether there
were any findings of police malfeasance or any cases in which police were
disciplined.
For example, on October 24, plainclothes police arrested Shanghai
petitioner Shen Yong for trespassing and, according to media reports,
beat him. Hours later police returned Shen to his family, and he died
shortly thereafter. Shen’s family maintained he died as a result of the
police beating. Police asserted he suddenly

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fell ill in their custody. Local media reported that the death was under
investigation but by year’s end provided no further information.
Authorities detained more than 100 petitioners at a protest following
Shen’s death.
A number of violent incidents in the XUAR resulted in multiple deaths.
Official accounts of these events generally blamed “terrorists,”
“separatists,” and “religious extremists” for what were portrayed as
violent terrorist attacks on community members and security personnel.
Human rights organizations, on the other hand, asserted that security
forces often shot at groups of Uighurs in their homes or during worship.
The government’s control of information coming out of the XUAR, together
with its increasingly tight security posture there, made it difficult to
verify the conflicting reports. (See also the Tibet annex for violent
incidents in the TAR and other Tibetan areas.)
For example on April 24, at least 21 persons were killed in a clash in
Barchuk County, XUAR: nine bystanders, six police, and six Uighurs
(described in the official press as “thugs”). According to the official
account, gunfights broke out when police entered persons’ homes to search
for “illegal knives.”

In April, Yu Qiyi, a chief engineer at a state-owned enterprise in
Wenzhou, died after being interrogated for corruption. Authorities
arrested six CCP investigators and convicted them of intentional assault
(see section 1.d.).
Defendants in criminal proceedings were executed following convictions
that lacked due process and adequate channels for appeal.
b. Disappearance
In September authorities detained Cao Shunli at Beijing Airport as she
was attempting to travel to Geneva to attend a training session in
advance of China’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights
Council. Five weeks after her disappearance, authorities at the Chaoyang
District Detention Center confirmed that Cao had been criminally detained
on charges of unlawful assembly. According to various media reports, her
family did not received a detention notice in accordance with the
Criminal Procedure Law.
At year’s end the government had not provided a comprehensive, credible
accounting of all those killed, missing, or detained in connection with
the violent suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. It is
estimated that fewer than a dozen remained in prison, although some
accounts suggest the number may be

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higher. Many activists who were involved in the demonstrations continued
to suffer from official harassment.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits the physical abuse of detainees and forbids prison
guards from extracting confessions by torture, insulting prisoners’
dignity, and beating or encouraging others to beat prisoners. Amendments
to the criminal procedure law that exclude evidence, including
confessions, obtained through illegal means, including under torture in
certain categories of criminal cases, took effect on January 1.
Numerous former prisoners and detainees reported that they were beaten,
subjected to electric shock, forced to sit on stools for hours on end,
deprived of sleep, and otherwise subjected to physical and psychological
abuse. Although ordinary prisoners were subjects of abuse, prison
authorities singled out political and religious dissidents for
particularly harsh treatment. In some instances close relatives of
dissidents also were singled out for abuse.

Human Rights Watch reported that police beat and tortured suspected
prostitutes.
According to news reports Xiao Yong, a Guangzhou-based activist detained
by police in April 2012 and remanded to two years of re-education through
labor (RTL) in Shaoyang, Hunan Province, was released in February and
allowed to return to his home. Authorities charged him with illegal
assembly for staging a demonstration calling on officials to disclose
publicly their financial assets. During his initial detention authorities
reportedly prevented Xiao from sleeping for up to five days, causing
multiple medical complications.
On May 18, police arrested a group of Fujian activists. Police held
petitioner Lin Yingqiang for 33 hours, deprived him of food, and chained
him to a “tiger seat,” a device meant to prevent the prisoner from
sleeping during his detention.

In May authorities in Sichuan Province detained and beat lawyers Tang
Jitian and Jiang Tianyong as they attempted to visit a black jail in
Ziyang that reportedly holds followers of the banned Falun Gong movement.
On June 8, the Dongcheng District People’s Court tried Peng Lanlan in
closed proceedings. The court’s decision was not available at year’s end.
Beijing police

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arrested Peng in August 2012, charged him with obstructing official
business, and tortured him by binding him to a tiger seat.
There were widespread reports of activists and petitioners being
committed to mental-health facilities and involuntarily subjected to
psychiatric treatment for political reasons. According to Legal Daily (a
state-owned newspaper covering legal affairs), the Ministry of Public
Security directly administered 24 high-security psychiatric hospitals for
the criminally insane (also known as ankang facilities). From 1998 to May
2010, more than 40,000 persons were committed to ankang hospitals. In
2010 an official of the Ministry of Public Security stated that detention
in ankang facilities was not appropriate for patients who did not
demonstrate criminal behavior. Nonetheless, political activists,
underground religious adherents, persons who repeatedly petitioned the
government, members of the banned Chinese Democracy Party (CDP), and
Falun Gong practitioners were among those housed in these institutions.
In October 2012 the government passed legislation banning involuntary
mental health examinations and inpatient treatment except in cases in
which patients expressed an intent to harm themselves or others. Critics
maintained, however, that the law still does not provide meaningful legal
protections for persons sent to psychiatric facilities. The March 2012
amendments to the criminal procedure law require a procuratorate (the
agency responsible for both prosecution and investigation) review and a
court decision for the psychiatric commitment of persons who have
committed serious offenses but are exempt from criminal responsibility
under the law. The amendments went into effect in April and include a
provision for appealing compulsory medical treatment decisions.
On April 7, a new mainland China magazine Lens carried an article
reporting abuses including torture with electric batons, forced feeding,
and prolonged solitary confinement at the Masanjia Detention Center in
Liaoning Province.
Advocacy groups continued to report organ harvesting from prisoners.
Former vice health minister Huang Jiefu, who in March 2012 reportedly
pledged to abolish taking organs for transplant from executed prisoners
within three to five years, stated that organs from executed prisoners
accounted for 64 percent of transplants in 2012 and for 54 percent in
mid-2013.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions
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Conditions in penal institutions for both political prisoners and
criminal offenders were generally harsh and often degrading.
Forced labor remained a serious problem in penal institutions (see
section 7.b.) as well as in RTL facilities. On December 28, the National
People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee passed legislation that
formally abolished the RTL system. State media announced that all inmates
would be released beginning December 30 and clarified that all
pre-abolition penalties would be considered legitimate. On December 17,
Amnesty International reported that authorities relabeled many RTL camps
as “drug rehabilitation centers” and “legal education centers.”
Physical Conditions: Prisoners and detainees were regularly held in
overcrowded conditions with poor sanitation. Food often was inadequate
and of poor quality, and many detainees relied on supplemental food,
medicines, and warm clothing provided by relatives. Prisoners often
reported sleeping on the floor because there were no beds or bedding.
Adequate, timely medical care for prisoners remained a serious problem,
despite official assurances that prisoners have the right to prompt
medical treatment.
Information on the prison population was not made public. In an April
2012 report to the NPC Standing Committee, the minister of justice stated
that the country had 681 prisons with 1.64 million inmates. The
International Center for Prison Studies (ICPS) reported that in 2009, in
addition to sentenced prisoners, 650,000 persons were held in detention
centers, and it estimated there were between 100,000 and 260,000 pretrial
detainees. The ICPS reported that in mid-2010 female prisoners made up
approximately 5.1 percent of the prison population, and in 2005 juveniles
made up 1.4 percent. The law requires juveniles be held separately from
adults, unless facilities are insufficient, but children were sometimes
held with adult prisoners and required to work. Political prisoners were
held with the general prison population and reported being beaten by
other prisoners at the instigation of guards. Some dissidents were not
allowed to receive supplemental food, medicine, and warm clothing from
relatives.
The law mandates that a prison shall be ventilated, allow for natural
light, and be clean and warm. The law further provides that a prison
“shall set up medical, living, and sanitary facilities and institute
regulations on the life and sanitation of prisoners.” It also states that
the medical and health care of prisoners shall be put into the public
health and epidemic prevention program of the area in which the prison is
located. In many cases provisions for sanitation, ventilation, heating,
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lighting, basic and emergency medical care, and access to potable water
were inadequate.
Conditions in administrative detention facilities, such as RTL camps,
were similar to those in prisons. Beating deaths occurred in
administrative detention and RTL facilities. Detainees reported beatings,
sexual assaults, lack of proper food, and limited or no access to medical
care.
Administration: It was unclear whether recordkeeping on prisoners was
adequate. Authorities employed alternatives to incarceration for both
violent and nonviolent offenders. According to Vice Minister of Justice
Zhao Dacheng, more than one million convicts served their sentences in
community corrections programs since 2003. There were no prison ombudsmen
per se, but prisoners and detainees are legally entitled to submit
complaints to judicial authorities without censorship and request
investigation of credible allegations of inhuman conditions. The law
states that letters from a prisoner to higher authorities of the prison
or to the judicial organs shall be free from examination, but it was
unclear to what extent the law was implemented. While authorities
occasionally investigated credible allegations of inhuman conditions, the
results were not documented in a publicly accessible manner. Many
prisoners and detainees did not have reasonable access to visitors and
could not engage in religious practices. Under Article 52 of the prison
law, “considerations shall be given to the special habits and customs of
prisoners of minority ethnic groups.” Article 23 of the Detention Center
Regulation has similar requirements. Little information was available
about the implementation of these regulations.
The law requires the government to investigate and monitor prison and
detention center conditions, and an official from the Prosecutor’s Office
is responsible for investigating and monitoring prison and detention
center conditions.
Independent Monitoring: Information about prisons, including associated
labor camps and factories, was considered a state secret, and the
government did not permit independent monitoring of prisons or RTL camps.
Prisoners remained inaccessible to local and international human rights
organizations and media groups. Authorities did not allow the
International Committee of the Red Cross to have access to prisoners or
perform prison visits in the country.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
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Arbitrary arrest and detention remained serious problems. The law grants
police broad administrative detention powers and the ability to detain
individuals for extended periods without formal arrest or criminal
charges. Throughout the year human rights activists, journalists,
unregistered religious leaders, and former political prisoners and their
family members continued to be among those targeted for arbitrary
detention or arrest.
In January the official media reported that authorities in Heilongjiang
Province confined petitioner Chen Qingxia to a deserted mortuary for
three years. Chen previously served 18-months’ in RTL, was allegedly
paralyzed by repeated beatings, and separated from her then 12-year-old
son by local authorities. After the media report the local government
reportedly found a house for Chen and pledged to help her look for her
son.
From June 3 to 25, in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, plainclothes police
reportedly detained prodemocracy activist Jiang Lijun on suspicion of
inciting subversion of state authority and disturbing the social order.
Jiang previously served a four-year sentence for “inciting subversion of
the state power.”
In July, Guangdong activist Wu Bin, also known as Xiucai Jianghu, was
detained for allegedly “sabotaging electric power equipment.” Wu
previously filed a lawsuit against Shenzhen’s Futian District Public
Security Bureau (PSB) for illegally detaining him. He was released on
bail in early August, rearrested in Zhejiang Province on September 12,
and given 10 days’ administrative detention for “spreading rumors.”
Many activists were subjected to extralegal house arrest, denied travel
rights, or administratively detained. Shanghai dissidents Feng Zhenghu
and Zheng Enchong were under unofficial house arrest at their apartments
in Shanghai. Both were allowed to move around Shanghai on occasion but
were kept under constant surveillance. Outsiders were often prevented
from visiting them, and they were not allowed to leave Shanghai. Zheng
Enchong was denied permission to travel to Hong Kong to accept a
fellowship teaching law. Authorities also reportedly kept other
dissidents under unofficial house arrest. Officials sentenced Shanghai
activists Wang Kouma and Wei Qin to 30 months and 27 months in prison,
respectively, for “creating a disturbance” related to their lawful
petitioning. Mao Hengfeng was released from RTL on February 8 and was
serving the remainder of her 18-month sentence under house arrest.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
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The main domestic security agencies include the Ministry of State
Security, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Armed Police.
The People’s Liberation Army is primarily responsible for external
security but also has some domestic security responsibilities. Local
jurisdictions also frequently used civilian municipal security forces,
known as “urban management” officials (chengguan), to enforce
administrative measures. The Ministry of Public Security coordinates the
country’s civilian police force, which is organized into specialized
police agencies and local, county, and provincial jurisdictions.
Procuratorate oversight of the police was limited. Corruption at the
local level was widespread. Police and urban management officials engaged
in extrajudicial detention, extortion, and assault. In 2009 the Supreme
People’s Procuratorate acknowledged continuing widespread abuse in law
enforcement. In 2009 domestic news media reported the convictions of
public security officials who had beaten to death prisoners or suspects
in their custody.
In May 2012 the Ministry of Supervision, Ministry of Human Resources and
Social Security, and Ministry of Justice jointly issued regulations
stating that police in prisons and RTL facilities face dismissal if they
are found to have beaten, applied corporal punishment, abused inmates, or
instigated such acts.
There were several media reports on deaths under the shuanggui system –
the CCP internal disciplinary system used to investigate party members
suspected of corruption. In April, Yu Qiyi, a chief engineer at a
state-owned enterprise in Wenzhou, died after being interrogated for
corruption. Authorities charged six investigators from the Communist
Party’s Disciplinary Committee in Wenzhou. The BBC reported they were
sentenced to between four and 14 years in prison. They reportedly
appealed their sentence.
Oversight of civilian municipal security forces was highly localized and
ad hoc. By law the officials can be criminally prosecuted for abuses of
power, but such cases were rarely pursued. There were multiple reports of
conflicts erupting between these officials and street vendors in
Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang provinces. For example, on June 19,
civilian municipal security forces reportedly beat a family of
fried-chicken vendors in the Beihang night market in Shenyang, Liaoning
Province, who refused to turn over their equipment. In protest more than
one thousand Shenyang residents gathered at the scene and blocked
traffic, and some reportedly retaliated by beating the officials. In some
cases mediation resulted in compensation being paid to victims of these
officials.
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Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
Police detention beyond 37 days requires prosecutorial approval of a
formal arrest. After arrest police are authorized to detain a suspect for
up to an additional seven months while the case is investigated.
After the completion of a police investigation, an additional 45 days of
detention are allowed for the procuratorate to determine whether to file
criminal charges. If charges are filed authorities can detain a suspect
for an additional 45 days before beginning judicial proceedings. Police
sometimes detained persons beyond the period allowed by law, and pretrial
detention periods of a year or longer were common.
The law stipulates that detainees be allowed to meet with defense counsel
before criminal charges are filed. Some criminal defense attorneys noted
that under the newly revised criminal procedure law their ability to meet
with clients improved significantly. In some cases defense attorneys were
able to arrange visits at any time and to have private meetings with
their clients in detention centers. This generally did not apply to cases
considered politically sensitive.
The criminal procedure law requires a court to provide a lawyer to a
defendant who has not already retained one; who is blind, deaf, mute, or
a minor; or who may be sentenced to death. Revisions that took effect on
January 1 added defendants facing a life sentence or who are mentally
ill. This law applies whether or not the defendant is indigent. Courts
may also provide lawyers to other criminal defendants who cannot afford
them, although courts often did not appoint counsel in such
circumstances.
Criminal defendants are entitled to apply for bail (also translated as “a
guarantor pending trial”) while awaiting trial, but the system does not
appear to operate effectively and few suspects were released on bail.
The law requires notification of family members within 24 hours of
detention, but individuals were often held without notification for
significantly longer periods, especially in politically sensitive cases.
Under a sweeping exception officials are not required to provide
notification if doing so would “hinder the investigation” of a case. The
revised criminal procedure law limits this exception to cases involving
state security or terrorism.
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The law allows for residential surveillance rather than detention in a
formal facility under certain circumstances. Under the revised criminal
procedure law, with the approval of the next higher-level authorities,
officials can enforce “residential surveillance” on a suspect at a
designated place of residence (i.e., a place other than the suspect’s
home) for up to six months, when they suspect crimes of endangering state
security, terrorism, or serious bribery and believe that surveillance at
the suspect’s residence would impede the investigation. Authorities must
notify relatives of individuals placed under formal arrest or residential
surveillance in a designated abode within 24 hours, unless notification
is impossible. They are not required to specify the grounds for or
location of the detention. Authorities can also prevent defense lawyers
from meeting with suspects in these categories of cases.
The law provides for the right to petition the government for resolution
of grievances, but citizens who traveled to Beijing to petition the
central government were frequently subjected to arbitrary detention,
often by police dispatched from the petitioner’s hometown. Some
provincial governments operated facilities in Beijing or in other
localities where petitioners from their districts were held in
extrajudicial detention. Some local governments took steps to restrict
petitioning. According to a 2010 Shanxi provincial government report, the
Shanxi Province People’s Congress adopted regulations that listed eight
types of “prohibited” petitioning, including: “illegally gathering,
encircling, or rushing into government offices or important public
spaces, stopping cars or hindering public transportation, linking up with
others to petition,” and similar acts. The Shanxi regulations also stated
that petitioners suspected of “misrepresenting facts to frame others”
could be subject to criminal charges.
Online reports claimed local officials in Zengcheng City, Guangdong
Province, sealed off two villages in March during the People’s Congress
and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)
sessions to prevent residents from petitioning.
On April 17, Shenzhen-based lawyer Jiang Yuanmin was arrested and charged
with “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” in connection with his
work on behalf of Hainan farmers’ land rights, according to online
reports. Family members claimed he was denied medical treatment.
Fujian petitioner Luo Xianying was reportedly arrested in Beijing in fall
2012 and forcibly returned to Sanming in November 2012. At year’s end she
was detained
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in a government building, and her family claimed she had not received
adequate treatment for her medical problems.
Before the December 28 NPC Standing Committee decision to abolish RTL,
nonjudicial panels, known as “labor re-education panels,” could remand
persons to RTL camps for up to three years without trial. Labor
re-education panels were authorized to extend these administrative
sentences for up to one year. Detainees were technically allowed to
challenge administrative RTL sentences and appeal for sentence reduction
or suspension, but appeals were rarely successful.
Other forms of administrative detention include “custody and education”
(for women engaged in prostitution and those soliciting prostitution) and
“custody and training” (for minor criminal offenders). The law
establishes a system of “compulsory isolation for drug rehabilitation.”
The minimum stay in such centers is two years, and the law states that
treatment can include labor. Public security organs authorize detention
in these centers, and it often was meted out as an administrative rather
than criminal measure. Authorities used administrative detention to
intimidate political activists and prevent public demonstrations.
Arbitrary Arrest: In February police began detaining and arresting dozens
of activists, lawyers, and other citizens in an apparently coordinated
crackdown on a loose grouping of activists known as the New Citizens
Movement. The Beijing Municipality Traffic Security Division detained
Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications lecturer and legal
scholar Xu Zhiyong on July 16 on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to
disturb public order.” He was formally arrested on August 22 and formally
charged in December. On September 13, authorities detained venture
capitalist and popular microblogger Wang Gongquan on charges of
“gathering a crowd to disturb public order,” after he used his microblog
to decry Xu’s arrest.
Other New Citizens Movement associates arrested for peaceful advocacy of
good governance included Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping, Li Sihua, Yuan Dong, Ma
Xinli, Zhang Baocheng, Hou Xin, Li Wei, Wang Yonghong, Ding Jiaxi, Sun
Hanhui, Zhao Changqing, Qi Yueying, Zhang Xiangzhong, Li Gang, Li
Huanjun, and Song Guangqiang.
Authorities arrested persons on allegations of revealing state secrets,
subversion, and other crimes as a means to suppress political dissent and
public advocacy. These charges – including what constitutes a state
secret – remained ill defined. Authorities also detained citizens and
foreigners under broad and ambiguous state
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secrets laws for, among other actions, disclosing information on criminal
trials, meetings, commercial activity, and government activity.
Authorities sometimes retroactively labeled a particular action as a
violation of the state secret laws. According to a Radio Free Asia (RFA)
report, local officials in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province, detained Zhou
Xingrong, whose child died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, for nine hours
in April 2012 for allegedly revealing “state secrets” by microblogging
about efforts by bereaved parents to obtain compensation for their
children’s earthquake-related deaths. According to a western media
report, authorities continued to harass her during the year.
Authorities placed numerous dissidents, activists, and petitioners under
house arrest during the October National Day holiday period and at other
sensitive times, such as during the visits of senior foreign government
officials or in the period preceding the annual plenary sessions of the
NPC and the CPPCC, the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, and
sensitive anniversaries in Tibetan areas and the XUAR.
Conditions faced by those under house arrest varied but sometimes
included complete isolation in their homes under police guard. In some
instances security officials were stationed inside the homes of subjects
under house arrest. Others under house arrest occasionally were permitted
to leave their homes to work or run errands but were required to ride in
police vehicles. In some cases police or plainclothes security officers
escorted the children of politically sensitive individuals to and from
school. When permitted to leave their homes, subjects of house arrest
were usually under police surveillance. Authorities in the XUAR used
house arrest and other forms of arbitrary detention against those accused
of supporting the “three evils” of religious extremism, “splittism,” and
terrorism.
After serving one year at an RTL camp for staging protests calling for
political reforms and attempting to visit prominent activist Ai Weiwei,
Fujian petitioner Wang Weizhu was released in July. She went to a foreign
embassy compound in Beijing after her release to distribute leaflets
about her grievances, after which Beijing Police reportedly detained her
for five days.
According to the RFA, in June authorities detained members of the Guizhou
Human Rights Symposium, including Wu Yuqin, Li Renke, and Mo Jiangang,
and forced them to leave the provincial capital for the duration of the
two-day EU-China meeting on human rights there.
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Pretrial Detention: Pretrial detention can last as long as one year.
Defendants in “sensitive cases” reported being subjected to prolonged
pretrial detention.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law states that the courts shall exercise judicial power
independently, without interference from administrative organs, social
organizations, and individuals. The judiciary did not exercise judicial
power independently. Legal scholars interpreted former president Hu
Jintao’s doctrine of the “Three Supremes” as stating that the interests
of the CCP are above the law. Judges regularly received political
guidance on pending cases, including instructions on how to rule, from
both the government and the CCP, particularly in politically sensitive
cases. The CCP Law and Politics Committee has the authority to review and
influence court operations at all levels of the judiciary.
During the year media sources indicated public security authorities used
televised confessions of foreign and domestic bloggers, journalists, and
business executives in an attempt to establish guilt before their
criminal trial proceedings began.
A CCP-controlled committee decides most major cases, and the duty of
trial and appellate court judges is to craft a legal justification for
the committee’s decision.
“Judicial independence” was reportedly one of the off-limit subjects that
the CCP ordered university professors not to discuss (see section 2.a.,
Academic Freedom).
Corruption also influenced court decisions. Safeguards against judicial
corruption were vague and poorly enforced. Local governments appoint and
pay local court judges and, as a result, often exerted influence over the
rulings of judges in their districts.
Courts are not authorized to rule on the constitutionality of
legislation. The law permits organizations or individuals to question the
constitutionality of laws and regulations, but a constitutional challenge
can be directed only to the promulgating legislative body. Lawyers have
little or no opportunity to rely on constitutional claims in litigation.
Trial Procedures
The criminal justice system was biased toward a presumption of guilt,
especially in high-profile or politically sensitive cases. According to
the Supreme People’s
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Court, in 2011 the combined conviction rate for first- and
second-instance criminal trials was 99.9 percent. Of 1,051,638 criminal
defendants tried in 2011, only 891 were acquitted.
In many politically sensitive trials courts handed down guilty verdicts
immediately following proceedings with no deliberation. Courts often
punished defendants who refused to acknowledge guilt with harsher
sentences than those who confessed. The appeals process rarely reversed
convictions. Appeals processes failed to provide sufficient avenues for
review, and remedies for violations of defendants’ rights were
inadequate.
Regulations of the Supreme People’s Court require all trials to be open
to the public, with the exceptions of cases involving state secrets,
privacy issues, and minors. Authorities used the state-secrets provision
to keep politically sensitive proceedings closed to the public, sometimes
even to family members, and to withhold access to defense counsel. Court
regulations state that foreigners with valid identification should be
allowed to observe trials under the same criteria as citizens, but
foreigners were permitted to attend court proceedings only by invitation.
As in past years, foreign diplomats and journalists unsuccessfully sought
permission to attend a number of trials. In some instances the trials
were reclassified as “state secrets” cases or otherwise closed to the
public. During the year foreign diplomats attempted to attend nearly one
dozen public trials throughout the country. In each instance court
officials claimed that there were no available seats in the courtroom and
that foreigners needed prior permission to attend trials.
Some trials were broadcast, and court proceedings were a regular
television feature. A few courts published their verdicts on the
internet.
The revised criminal procedure law makes clear that a criminal suspect
may retain a lawyer immediately after an initial police interrogation or
after his or her freedom has been officially limited. Investigators are
required to inform suspects of their right to retain counsel. Police must
also arrange meetings between a defense lawyer and his or her client
within 48 hours of a request from defense counsel.
Individuals facing administrative detention do not have the right to seek
legal counsel. Criminal defendants were eligible for legal assistance,
although more than 50 percent of criminal defendants went to trial
without a lawyer. According to the Ministry of Justice, in 2012 there
were more than one million legal aid cases. The revised criminal
procedure law expanded requirements for legal aid to include
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cases that could result in life imprisonment and cases involving
individuals suffering from mental illness.
Human rights lawyers reported that authorities did not permit them to
defend certain clients or threatened them with punishment if they chose
to do so. The government suspended or revoked the licenses of lawyers or
their firms to stop them from taking sensitive cases, such as defending
prodemocracy dissidents, house-church activists, Falun Gong
practitioners, or government critics.
The CCP continued to require law firms with three or more CCP members to
form a CCP unit within the firm. Firms with one or two CCP members may
establish joint CCP units with other firms. In smaller counties and
cities with few lawyers, CCP members may join local Justice Bureau CCP
units. This rule also applies to private companies and other
organizations.
Some lawyers declined to represent defendants in politically sensitive
cases, and such defendants frequently found it difficult to find an
attorney.
Authorities detained Guangzhou-based activist Yang Maodong (also known
under the pen name Guo Feixiong) on August 8 on suspicion of “gathering a
crowd to disrupt order of a public place.” According to several Western
media sources, officials repeatedly denied him access to lawyers.
International media speculated he was detained in connection with his
participation in protests surrounding the incident in January involving
censorship of the Guangzhou newspaper Southern Weekend and his
association with the New Citizens Movement (see section 2, Freedom of
Speech and Press).
When defendants were able to retain counsel in politically sensitive
cases, government officials sometimes prevented attorneys from organizing
an effective defense. Tactics employed by court and government officials
included unlawful detentions, disbarment, harassment and physical
intimidation, and denial of access to evidence and to clients.
In April a court in Jiangsu Province placed Beijing rights lawyer Wang
Quanzhang under a 10-day judicial detention for “serious violations of
court procedure.” The violations consisted of using his mobile telephone
to copy a set of original documents he was submitting to the court during
the trial of a Falun Gong practitioner.
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Online reports indicated that on June 25 riot police in Wenchang, Hainan
Province, intercepted a group of Guangzhou-based lawyers who had come to
represent detained dissident Zheng Qiuwu and his wife. The riot police
scuffled with the lawyers and forced them to return to the provincial
capital of Haikou.
The annual licensing review process administered by the Beijing Lawyers
Association was used to withhold or delay the renewal of professional
lawyers’ licenses, which restricted the ability of a number of human
rights and public interest lawyers to practice law.
Government officials continued to harass lawyers for their involvement in
high-profile, rights-related cases.
Defense attorneys may be held legally responsible if their client commits
perjury, and prosecutors and judges have wide discretion to decide what
constitutes perjury. In some sensitive cases lawyers had no pretrial
access to their clients, and defendants and lawyers were not allowed to
communicate with one another during trials. Criminal defendants were
frequently not assigned an attorney until a case was brought to court.
According to a Ministry of Justice official, in 2011 lawyers represented
fewer than half of criminal defendants, and in some provincial-level
administrative regions, only an estimated 12 percent of criminal suspects
had lawyers.
Mechanisms allowing defendants to confront their accusers were
inadequate. Only a small percentage of trials involved witnesses, and
fewer than 10 percent of subpoenaed witnesses appeared in court. A
provision of the revised criminal procedure law compels witnesses to
appear in court and includes protections for witnesses and financial
allowances for performing the duties of a witness. In most criminal
trials, prosecutors read witness statements, which neither the defendants
nor their lawyers had an opportunity to rebut. Although the law states
that pretrial witness statements cannot serve as the sole basis for
conviction, prosecutors relied heavily on such statements. Defense
attorneys had no authority to compel witnesses to testify or to mandate
discovery, although they could apply for access to government-held
evidence relevant to their case. Defense attorneys received minimal
pretrial access to information.
The criminal code contains 55 capital offenses, including nonviolent
financial crimes such as embezzlement and corruption. There was no
publicly available government information on how many defendants were
either sentenced to death or executed during the year. Official figures
on execution are classified as a state
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secret. An international human rights NGO estimated that 4,000 persons
were executed annually in recent years, a marked decrease in the years
following the 2007 Supreme People’s Court retrieval of its authority to
conduct final reviews of death sentences. Lethal injection and shooting
were employed as execution methods.
Chen Youxi, the attorney for street vendor Xia Junfeng, who was convicted
of killing two urban management officials in Shenyang, Liaoning Province,
and executed on September 25, argued that the Supreme People’s Court
failed to consider evidence supporting Xia’s claims of self-defense
during its review of his sentence. According to a report, the presiding
judge refused to admit the testimony of several eyewitnesses and relied
on the statements of other urban management officials.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
Government officials continued to deny holding any political prisoners,
asserting that authorities detained persons not for their political or
religious views but because they violated the law. Authorities, however,
continued to imprison citizens for reasons related to politics and
religion. Tens of thousands of political prisoners remained incarcerated,
some in prisons and others in RTL camps or administrative detention. The
government did not grant international humanitarian organizations access
to political prisoners.
Foreign NGOs estimated that several hundred persons remained in prison
for “counterrevolutionary crimes,” which were removed from the criminal
code in 1997. Thousands of others were serving sentences under state
security statutes. The government apparently neither reviewed all cases
of those charged before 1997 with counterrevolutionary crimes nor
released persons jailed for nonviolent offenses under repealed provisions
of the criminal law. The government maintained that prisoners serving
sentences for counterrevolutionary crimes and endangering state security
were eligible to apply for sentence reduction and parole. Political
prisoners, however, were granted early release at lower rates than other
prisoners. Observers believed that persons remained in prison for crimes
in connection with their involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen prodemocracy
movement, although the number was unknown because related official
statistics were never made public.
Rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng remained in prison in Xinjiang for allegedly
violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence. Authorities sharply
limited access to
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him and at times concealed his whereabouts. Democracy activist Hada
remained in unofficial detention in Inner Mongolia three years after
reportedly completing a 15-year sentence in 2010. Hada’s wife and sons
also faced periods of extralegal house arrest.
Many political prisoners remained in prison or under other forms of
detention at year’s end, including rights activists Wang Bingzhang and
Liu Xianbin; Ablikim Abdureyim, son of Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer;
Zhou Yongjun; labor activist Kong Youping; Roman Catholic bishop Su
Zhimin; and Tibetan Buddhist reincarnate lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who
was reportedly in poor health.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, coauthor of the Charter ‘08
manifesto that called for increased political freedoms and human rights,
remained in Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province. Beijing-based human
rights attorney Mo Shaoping, whose firm represented Liu, reported that
Liu’s wife Liu Xia was allowed to travel from Beijing to Jinzhou to see
him monthly. She remained under 24-hour surveillance, and police escorted
her whenever she was allowed to leave her home. Media reports in December
indicated that Liu Xia might be suffering from depression due to her
long-term isolation and deprivation of access to books and the internet.
On August 16, a Beijing court sentenced Liu Hui, Liu Xiaobo’s
brother-in-law, to 11 years’ imprisonment on spurious charges of contract
fraud by. Liu Xia was allowed to attend the trial on April 23 and told
onlookers outside the court that she was not free.
At year’s end reliable information was not available as to whether the
following individuals remained in detention: Abdulla Jamal, Uighur
activist Dilkex Tilivaldi, Feng Xinchun, Gonpo Lhundrub, Gonpo Thar,
Jalo, Tselo, and Wang Diangang.
Criminal punishments continued to include “deprivation of political
rights” for a fixed period after release from prison, during which time
the individual was denied rights of free speech, association, and
publication. Former prisoners reported that their ability to find
employment, travel, obtain residence permits, rent residences, and access
social services was severely restricted. Former political prisoners and
their families frequently were subjected to police surveillance,
telephone wiretaps, searches, and other forms of harassment or threats.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
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Courts deciding civil matters faced the same limitations on judicial
independence as criminal courts. The State Compensation Law provides
administrative and judicial remedies for plaintiffs whose rights or
interests government agencies or officials have infringed. The law also
allows compensation for wrongful detention, mental trauma, or physical
injuries inflicted by detention center or prison officials. Citizens
seldom applied for state compensation because of the high cost of
bringing lawsuits, low credibility of courts, and citizens’ lack of
awareness of the State Compensation Law. Victims’ claims were difficult
to assess because of vague definitions in the law and difficulties in
obtaining evidence of injury or damage. Judges were reluctant to accept
state compensation cases, and government agencies seldom implemented
court judgments in favor of plaintiffs.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
While the law states that the “freedom and privacy of correspondence of
citizens are protected by law,” authorities often did not respect the
privacy of citizens. Although the law requires warrants before law
enforcement officials can search premises, officials frequently ignored
this requirement. The Public Security Bureau and prosecutors are
authorized to issue search warrants on their own authority without
judicial review. Cases of forced entry by police officers continued to be
reported.
Authorities monitored telephone conversations, fax transmissions, e-mail,
text messaging, and internet communications. They also opened and
censored domestic and international mail. Security services routinely
monitored and entered residences and offices to gain access to computers,
telephones, and fax machines.
According to foreign media reports, the Ministry of Public Security used
tens of millions of surveillance cameras in the country. Authorities
justified the security cameras as a way to improve public safety, crime
fighting, traffic management, and “social stability.” Human rights groups
stated authorities increasingly relied on the cameras to monitor and
intimidate political dissidents, Tibetans, and Uighurs.
The monitoring and disruption of telephone and internet communications
were particularly widespread in the XUAR and Tibetan areas. Authorities
frequently warned dissidents and activists, underground religious
figures, and former political prisoners throughout the country not to
meet with foreign journalists or diplomats, especially before sensitive
anniversaries, at the time of important government or CCP meetings, and
during the visits of high-level foreign officials. Security personnel
harassed and detained the family members of political prisoners,
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including following them to meetings with foreign reporters and diplomats
and urging them to remain silent about the cases of their relatives.
Family members of activists, dissidents, Falun Gong practitioners,
journalists, unregistered religious figures, and former political
prisoners were targeted for arbitrary arrest, detention, and harassment
(see section 1.d.).
In April four unidentified men forcibly removed 10-year-old Zhang Anni,
the daughter of prodemocracy activist, Zhang Lin, from school and
detained her at the Hefei city police station for several hours. Under
government pressure, Hupo Elementary School refused to enroll Zhang Anni
for seven weeks.
Chen Kegui, nephew of activist Chen Guangcheng, remained in prison at
year’s end. In April media reported that Kegui was suffering from an
unknown health condition in prison following allegations of torture by
prison authorities. Authorities denied his family’s request for medical
parole.
On August 16, Guangzhou police prohibited activist Tang Jingling and his
wife Wang Yanfang from attending the funeral of well known house church
pastor Samuel Lamb. Security officials reportedly put many pastors under
house arrest to prevent them from attending the funeral. Guangzhou
security personnel had previously detained Wang Yanfang for 10 days in
December 2011 and January 2012 in connection with protests in the
Guangdong village of Wukan.
On May 31, police in Wenchang, Hainan, arrested dissident Zheng Qiuwu’s
wife. On June 4, Zhejiang authorities detained Zheng himself and sent him
home to Hainan. Both Zheng and his wife reportedly were charged with
“illegal business activity.”
Forced relocation because of urban development continued and in some
locations increased during the year. Protests over relocation terms or
compensation were common, and some protest leaders were prosecuted. In
rural areas infrastructure and commercial development projects resulted
in the forced relocation of millions of persons.
Property-related disputes between citizens and government authorities,
which often turned violent, were widespread in both urban and rural
areas. These disputes frequently stemmed from local officials’ collusion
with property developers to pay little or no compensation to displaced
residents, combined with a lack of effective government oversight or
media scrutiny of local officials’ involvement in property
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transactions, as well as a lack of legal remedies or other dispute
resolution mechanisms for displaced residents. The problem persisted
despite the central government’s efforts to impose stronger controls over
illegal land seizures and to standardize compensation. Redevelopment in
traditional Uighur neighborhoods in cities throughout the XUAR, such as
the Old City area in Kashgar, resulted in the destruction of historically
or culturally important areas. Some residents voiced opposition to the
lack of proper compensation provided by the government and coercive
measures used to obtain their agreement to redevelopment. There were
several reports of herders in Inner Mongolia complaining of confiscation
of traditional pastoral lands for development.
Foreign media reported that at least 53 persons had self-immolated since
2009 to protest destruction of their homes.
For information on the government’s family planning policies and their
consequences, see section 6, Women.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The law provides for freedom of speech and press, although authorities
generally did not respect these rights. Authorities continued to control
print, broadcast, and electronic media tightly and used them to propagate
government views and CCP ideology. During the year authorities imposed
censorship and manipulated the press and the internet, particularly
around sensitive anniversaries.
Freedom of Speech: With significant exceptions, especially speech that
challenged the government or the CCP, political topics could be discussed
privately and in small groups without official punishment. During the
year some independent think tanks, study groups, and seminars reported
pressure to cancel some sessions on sensitive topics. Those who made
politically sensitive comments in public speeches, academic discussions,
and comments to the media remained subject to punitive measures.
In March the government merged the State Administration of Radio, Film,
and Television with the General Administration of Press and Publication
to create a new broadcast and press regulatory body, the General
Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television.
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On September 9, the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s
Procuratorate issued a judicial interpretation that made online
rumormongering a punishable offense. Under the interpretation the author
of a libelous internet post that is reposted more than 500 times or read
more than 5,000 times, or of an internet post that led to mass protests,
instigated ethnic or religious clashes, damaged the country’s image or
caused “a bad international effect,” is subject to a maximum of three
years in prison. By year’s end this interpretation had a chilling effect
on online discourse.
The government frequently monitored gatherings of intellectuals,
scholars, and dissidents where political or sensitive issues were
discussed. In 2008, to commemorate International Human Rights Day, a
group of 303 intellectuals and activists released a petition entitled
Charter ‘08, calling for the CCP to respect human rights and implement
democratic reforms. Since then Charter ‘08 signers continued to report
official harassment, especially around sensitive dates.
According to Western media reports, Shenzhen activist Yang Mingyu (also
known as Yang Lin) was arrested July 19 for “inciting subversion of state
power” in connection with his democracy activism, participation in
Charter ‘08, and efforts to disclose official corruption.
On August 12, activist Liu Jiacai, who served two years administrative
detention sentence on a charge of “inciting subversion of state power” in
2002, was detained in Hubei Province on criminal charges of “inciting
subversion of state power.” Police reported that he was detained for
posting and disseminating online writings and views about legal reform in
China. NGO sources reported that the charges stemmed from the fact that
Liu had gathered activists in Yichang, Hubei Province for dinner parties,
where they discussed corruption and other sensitive topics.
Press Freedoms: All books and magazines require state-issued publication
numbers, which were expensive and often difficult to obtain. Nearly all
print media, broadcast media, and book publishers were affiliated with
the CCP or a government agency. There were a small number of print
publications with some private ownership interest but no privately owned
television or radio stations. The CCP directed the domestic media to
refrain from reporting on certain subjects, and all broadcast programming
required government approval.
In November the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio,
Film, and Television began requiring news organizations to hold weekly
lectures on the
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CCP’s journalistic principles, and journalists applying to renew their
media credentials are required to take an examination on Marxist
journalistic ideals.
Foreign journalists based in the country found a challenging environment
for reporting. According to the annual “Reporting Conditions” survey of
the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC), “98 percent of
respondents do not think reporting conditions in China meet international
standards, and 70 percent feel conditions have worsened or stayed the
same as the year before.”
On July 8, journalist and documentary filmmaker Du Bin was released from
a Beijing jail on bail after being detained for five weeks for allegedly
“disturbing order at a public place.” In May, Du had posted an online
documentary about the Masanjia Women’s RTL Camp in Liaoning Province (see
section 1.c.), and also in May a publisher with offices in Hong Kong and
New York published his book on the Tiananmen massacre.
Violence and Harassment: On July 15, law enforcement officers in Baita
District of Liaoyang, Liaoning Province, allegedly beat a Chinese
Business Morning View journalist who was reporting on a dispute between
residents and developers at a construction site and destroyed his
interview recordings.
Restrictions on foreign journalists by central and local CCP propaganda
departments remained strict, especially during sensitive times and
anniversaries. Foreign press outlets reported that local employees of
foreign news agencies were also subject to official harassment and
intimidation. During the year the FCCC “found 63 cases in which police
officers or unknown persons impeded foreign reporters from doing their
work, including nine cases in which reporters were manhandled or
subjected to physical force.” The report adds that while “this represents
a welcome drop from last year,” such intimidation “remains unacceptable.”
According to Western media reports, in February a group of unidentified
men in four vehicles assaulted a German television crew filming in a
village near Beijing. According to a German correspondent present at the
scene, the men ran the crew’s minivan off the road and then smashed its
windshield with baseball bats.
In December, Chinese authorities prevented a Western reporter from
attending a press event with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese
Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
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The FCCC reported that, although routine delays in the provision of
journalist visas appear to have shortened in recent months, 10 percent of
survey respondents reported difficulties in obtaining official press
accreditation or a journalist visa because of their reporting or that of
their predecessors. While some reporters who authored particularly
controversial news articles ultimately had their visas renewed, their
news organizations experienced difficulty obtaining visas for new
journalists and staff, even when these individuals previously held
journalist visas for China.
Additionally, among the correspondents surveyed, 30 percent stated their
Chinese assistants encountered pressure from officials or experienced
harassment.
The government limited attendance at official press briefings to domestic
media. Foreign media and diplomats were allowed to attend only briefings
conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a handful of press
briefings held around special events.
Authorities continued to enforce tight restrictions on citizens employed
by foreign news organizations. The code of conduct for Chinese employees
of foreign media organizations threatens with dismissal and loss of
accreditation Chinese employees who engage in “independent reporting” and
instructs them to provide their employers information that projects a
good image of the country.
Official guidelines for domestic journalists were often vague, subject to
change at the discretion of propaganda officials, and enforced
retroactively. Propaganda authorities forced newspapers to fire editors
and journalists responsible for articles deemed inconsistent with
official policy and suspended or closed publications. The system of
postpublication review by propaganda officials encouraged self-censorship
by editors seeking to avoid the losses associated with penalties for
inadvertently printing unauthorized content. Officials can be punished
for unauthorized contact with journalists.
Government officials used criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits, and other
punishments, including violence, detention, and other forms of
harassment, to intimidate authors and journalists and to prevent the
dissemination of controversial writings. A domestic journalist can face
demotion or job loss for publishing views that challenge the government.
In January a group of current and former journalists from the Guangzhou
newspaper Southern Weekend (also translated as Southern Weekly), part of
the
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Nanfang Daily Group, accused provincial propaganda officials of altering
the newspaper’s traditional New Year’s message, which called for
increased respect for constitutional rights. Southern Weekend journalists
went on strike January 6 to protest editorial censorship, and students
and activists began holding supportive demonstrations in front of the
newspaper offices in Guangzhou. The protests turned into a broader public
backlash against press censorship and were supported by editors,
reporters, and social media. An agreement between the newspaper’s staff
and party overseers ended the strike January 8 and allowed the newspaper
to resume publication January 10, but a clampdown on dissent reportedly
followed. According to media reports, local authorities forcibly
dispersed anticensorship protests, detained several activists for
expressing solidarity with the newspaper, and blocked and deleted all
references to the controversy from the internet.
Journalists who remained in prison at year’s end included Yang Tongyan,
and Dhondup Wangchen. Uighur webmasters Dilshat Perhat and Nijat Azat
continued to serve sentences for “endangering state security.” Uighur
journalist Memetjan Abdulla was sentenced to life in prison in 2010,
reportedly for transmitting “subversive” information related to the 2009
riots. During the year journalists working in traditional and new media
were also imprisoned. In December 2012 the Prison Census of the Committee
to Protect Journalists reported that, of 32 known journalists imprisoned
in the country, 12 were ethnic Tibetan, seven were ethnic Uighur, and one
was ethnic Mongolian. The committee documented two new imprisonment cases
in 2012.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: Authorities continued to confiscate
“unauthorized publications.” According to the National Office Against
Pornographic and Illegal Publications, 45 million illegal publications
were confiscated and more than 3.7 million pieces of online information
involving pornography or other illegal content were deleted in 2012.
Foreign journalists were denied permits to travel to the TAR, except for
a very few highly controlled, government-organized press visits. Travel
to Tibetan areas outside the TAR became increasingly difficult for
foreign journalists. While foreign journalists were allowed access to
Urumqi, XUAR, local and provincial authorities continued to control
strictly the travel, access, and interviews of foreign journalists, even
forcing them to leave cities in parts of the XUAR. After French news
station France 24 broadcast journalist Cyril Payen’s documentary about
Tibet on May 30, Chinese embassy personnel went to the channel’s
headquarters in Paris to demand the withdrawal of the documentary from
the station’s website. The
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Chinese embassy in Bangkok also threatened Payen by telephone, according
to Reporters Without Borders.
Media outlets received regular guidance on topics that should not be
covered from the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department. For example, in
April the department issued censorship instructions to mainland media
prohibiting them from reusing, reporting, and commenting on Lens
magazine’s April article on the Masanjia Women’s Labor Re-education Camp
in Liaoning Province (see section 1.c.).
Following an October typhoon in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, that killed 10
persons and sparked protests about the government response, the State
Council Information Office issued instructions to media outlets and
internet companies not to report a local newspaper’s story about the
protests.
In December 2012 the Central Propaganda Department ordered media outlets
to adhere strictly to the information provided by authoritative
departments when reporting on officials suspected of involvement in graft
or bribery. Throughout the year the Central Propaganda Department issued
similar instructions regarding the election of Hong Kong’s chief
executive, the self-immolation of Tibetans, and the Bo Xilai scandal. The
orders included instructions for media outlets not to investigate or
report on their own.
Authorities continued to ban books with content they deemed
controversial. The law permits only government-approved publishing houses
to print books. The State Press and Publications Administration (PPA)
controlled all licenses to publish. Newspapers, periodicals, books, audio
and video recordings, or electronic publications may not be printed or
distributed without the approval of the PPA and relevant provincial
publishing authorities. Individuals who attempted to publish without
government approval faced imprisonment, fines, confiscation of their
books, and other sanctions. The CCP exerted control over the publishing
industry by preemptively classifying certain topics as state secrets.
Many intellectuals and scholars exercised self-censorship, anticipating
that books or papers on political topics would be deemed too sensitive to
be published. The censorship process for private and government media
also increasingly relied on self-censorship and, in a few cases,
postpublication sanctions.
The General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and
Television, and the CCP remained active in issuing restrictive
regulations and decisions constraining the content of broadcast media.
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Authorities continued to jam, with varying degrees of success, Chinese-,
Uighur-, and Tibetan-language broadcasts of the Voice of America (VOA),
the BBC, and RFA. English-language broadcasts on the VOA generally were
not jammed. Internet distribution of streaming radio news and podcasts
from these sources often was blocked. Despite the jamming of overseas
broadcasts, the VOA, the BBC, RFA, Deutsche Welle, and Radio France
International had large audiences, including human rights advocates,
ordinary citizens, and government officials.
Overseas television newscasts, largely restricted to hotels and foreign
residence compounds, were occasionally subject to censorship. Such
censorship of foreign broadcasts also occurred around the anniversary of
the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and during the 18th Party Congress in 2012.
Individual issues of foreign newspapers and magazines were occasionally
banned when they contained articles deemed too sensitive. After two U.S.
media websites published articles on Bloomberg.com and in the New York
Times detailing the family wealth of Xi Jinping and Wen Jiabao, websites
for both media outlets were blocked.
Politically sensitive coverage in Chinese, and to a lesser extent in
English, were censored more than coverage in other languages. The
government prohibited some foreign and domestic films deemed too
sensitive or selectively censored parts of films before they were
released.
Internet Freedom
In 2010 the Information Office of the State Council released its first
White Paper on the internet outlining the government’s endeavors to allow
certain freedoms of speech on the internet as long as the speech did not
endanger state security, subvert state power, damage state honor and
interests, jeopardize state religious policy, propagate heretical or
superstitious ideas, or spread rumors and other content forbidden by laws
and administrative regulations, among other caveats. The internet was
widely available and widely used. The China Internet Network Information
Center (CNNIC) reported that by the end of 2012 the number of internet
users reached 564 million, including 420 million mobile telephone
internet users. The CNNIC reported that 50.9 million new users were added
in 2012 – a 3.8 percent increase from 2011. The International
Telecommunication Union reported that 39 percent of individuals used the
internet and 41 percent of households had access to the internet by the
end of the year.
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The CCP underscored the importance of maintaining security and promoting
core socialist values on the internet in its official decision adopted at
the Sixth Plenum of the 17th CCP Congress in October 2011. The document
called for developing a “healthy and uplifting network culture” that
entails measures such as “step[ping] up guidance and management over
social networks and instant messaging tools, standardiz[ing] the
transmission order of information on the internet, and foster[ing] a
civilized and rational network environment.”
The CCP continued to increase efforts to monitor internet use, control
content, restrict information, block access to foreign and domestic
websites, encourage self-censorship, and punish those who ran afoul of
political sensitivities. According to news sources, more than 14
government ministries participated in these efforts, resulting in the
censorship of thousands of domestic and foreign websites, blogs, cell
phone text messages, social networking services, online chat rooms,
online games, and e-mail. These measures were not universally effective.
In addition to its own extensive system of internet censorship, the
government imposed more responsibilities on internet companies to
implement online censorship and surveillance regimes, and it sought to
prohibit anonymous expression online.
A State Council regulation deems personal blogs, computer bulletin
boards, and cell phone text messages to be part of the news media, which
subjects these media to state restrictions on content. Internet service
providers were instructed to use only domestic media news postings, to
record information useful for tracking users and their viewing habits, to
install software capable of copying e-mails, and to end immediately
transmission of “subversive material.”
Under guidance from the CCP, the government employed thousands of persons
at the national, provincial, and local levels to monitor electronic
communications. Official monitoring focused on such tools as social
networking, microblogging, and video-sharing sites. Internet companies
also employed thousands of censors to implement CCP directives.
In 2011 central government authorities ordered all public spaces offering
free wireless internet access to install costly software that would
enable police to identify users of the service. Authorities warned
Beijing cafe and restaurant owners they would face a fine of 20,000
renminbi (RMB) ($3,270) if they offered wireless internet access without
installing the software. In December 2012 the NPC ratified a law
requiring persons to give their real names when signing up for internet,
fixed telephone line, or mobile telephone services. Providers must also
require persons’ names when allowing them to post information publicly.
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Major news portals require users to register using their real names and
identification numbers to comment on news articles. Individuals using the
internet in public libraries are required to register using their
national identity card, and usage reportedly was monitored at all public
library terminals.
The government consistently blocked access to websites it deemed
controversial, especially those discussing Taiwan, the Dalai Lama, Tibet,
underground religious and spiritual organizations, democracy activists,
and the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. The government also at times blocked
access to selected sites operated by foreign governments, news outlets,
health organizations, educational institutions, NGOs, and social
networking sites, as well as to search engines that allow rapid
communication or organization of users.
In June 2012, following the publication of an expose on the financial
affairs of Xi Jinping’s family, the government blocked access to a
Western media website. In October 2012 the government blocked access to
the English- and Chinese-language versions of a U.S. media website after
it published an article on Wen Jiabao’s family fortunes. At year’s end,
several Western media and social media websites were not accessible.
Some websites included images of cartoon police officers that warn users
to stay away from forbidden content. Operators of web portals,
blog-hosting services, and other content providers engaged in
self-censorship to ensure their servers were free from politically
sensitive content. Domestic websites that refused to self-censor
political content were shut down, and many foreign websites were blocked.
Millions of citizens had Twitter-like microblogs that circulated some
news banned in the national media. The microblogs themselves were
censored but often hours or days after the posting.
In July 2012 the State Internet Information Office and the State
Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued a circular requiring
online video content providers to review videos before making them
available online and holding them responsible for the content.
Authorities employed an array of technical measures to block “sensitive”
websites based in foreign countries. The ability of users to access such
sensitive sites varied from city to city. The government also
automatically censored e-mail and web chats based on a list of sensitive
key words, such as “Falun Gong,” “Dalai Lama,” and “Tibetan
independence.” While such censorship was effective in keeping
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casual users away from sensitive content, it was defeated through the use
of various technologies. Information on proxy servers outside China and
software for defeating official censorship was readily available inside
the country, but the government increasingly blocked access to the
websites and proxy servers of commercial virtual private network
providers. Despite official monitoring and censorship, dissidents and
political activists continued to use the internet to call attention to
political causes such as prisoner advocacy, political reform, ethnic
discrimination, and corruption. Internet users spanning the political
spectrum complained of censorship. Authorities sometimes blocked or
closed the blogs of a number of prominent activists, artists, scholars,
and university professors during the year.
There were numerous press reports of purported cyber-attacks against
foreign websites, foreign journalists, and foreign media organizations
that carried information deemed offensive by the government.
Authorities continued to jail numerous internet writers for peaceful
expression of political views.
According to online reports, in June police in Fujian detained an online
activist for 10 days for her microblog comments about a June 7 bus
explosion in Xiamen. Police previously detained this same blogger in
January 2012 for her comments about alleged corruption behind forced home
evictions and demolitions in Xiamen’s Jimei district.
The blog of environmental writer Liu Futang remained inaccessible. His
blog, which exposed environmental problems caused by government-backed
projects, was shut down in late 2012 after a Hainan Province court found
him guilty of illegally profiting from self-published books.
The State Secrets Law obliges internet companies to cooperate with
investigations of suspected leaks of state secrets, stop the transmission
of such information once discovered, and report the crime to authorities.
Furthermore, the companies must comply with authorities’ orders to delete
such information from their websites, and failure to do so is punishable
by relevant departments such as the police and the Ministry of Public
Security.
Regulations prohibit a broad range of activities that authorities
interpret as subversive or slanderous to the state.
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Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
The government continued restrictions on academic and artistic freedom,
and political and social discourse at colleges, universities, and
research institutes. The General Administration of Press, Publications,
Radio, Film, and Television and the Central Propaganda Department issued
restrictive regulations and decisions that constrained the flow of ideas
and persons. In May the media reported that the CCP issued secret
instructions to university faculty identifying seven “off-limits”
subjects including universal values, freedom of the press, civil society,
civil rights, an independent judiciary, elite cronyism, and the
historical errors of the CCP. Some academics self-censored their
publications, faced pressure to reach predetermined research results, or
were unable to hold conferences with international participants during
politically sensitive periods. Peking University economics professor Xia
Yeliang came under government criticism for calling for public discussion
of reform among intellectuals, and in October he was dismissed from his
university position.
In December the East China University of Political Science and Law in
Shanghai dismissed law professor Zhang Xuezhong for criticizing one-party
rule in an online publication. According to reports, the school
administration decided Zhang was unfit to teach after he refused to admit
any wrongdoing.
Censorship and self-censorship of artistic works was common, particularly
those artworks deemed to involve politically sensitive subjects.
Authorities on a few occasions blocked entry into the country of
individuals deemed politically sensitive and declined to issue passports
to Chinese citizens selected for international exchange programs who were
considered “politically unreliable,” singling out ethnic Tibetans and
Uighurs and individuals from other minority nationality areas.
A number of other foreign government-sponsored exchange selectees,
particularly those from minority provinces, encountered difficulties
gaining approval to travel to participate in their programs.
The government used political attitudes and affiliations as criteria for
selecting persons for the few government-sponsored study abroad programs
but did not impose such restrictions on privately sponsored students. The
government and the party controlled the appointment of high-level
officials at universities. While CCP
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membership was not always a requirement to obtain a tenured faculty
position, scholars without CCP affiliation often had fewer chances for
promotion.
Foreign researchers, authors, and academics residing abroad reported they
were subject to sanctions, including denial of visas, from authorities
when their work did not meet with official approval. Thirteen foreign
academics asserted that they were blacklisted and blocked from obtaining
visas to travel to China for having contributed scholarly essays to a
book on Xinjiang published in 2004. Other scholars continued to be
blacklisted or faced difficulties obtaining visas because of their
politically sensitive work on China.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of Assembly
While the law provides for freedom of peaceful assembly, the government
severely restricted this right. The law stipulates that such activities
may not challenge “party leadership” or infringe upon the “interests of
the state.” Protests against the political system or national leaders
were prohibited. Authorities denied permits and quickly suppressed
demonstrations involving expression of dissenting political views.
Citizens continued to gather publicly to protest evictions, relocations,
and compensation in locations throughout the country, often resulting in
conflict with authorities or other charges (see section 1.f.).
Guangdong police worked aggressively to curtail free speech and preempt
peaceful assembly during the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square
incident. Authorities ordered 15-day administrative detention for the
organizers of one event. Police placed other activists under surveillance
or house arrest, encouraged some to leave town on “vacation,” or invited
them to police stations for “tea” and questioning. Police also reportedly
restricted the freedom of Foshan rights activist Chen Qitang and
Guangzhou rights activists Wang Aizhong and Tang Jingling in late May and
early June in advance of and during the anniversary of the Tiananmen
incident.
In January, Guangzhou police detained numerous persons involved in public
demonstrations against the provincial propaganda department’s censorship
of Southern Weekend’s New Year’s greeting. In addition to administrative
detentions and formal arrests, police reportedly held a number of
participants in irregular detention facilities including a movie theater
and a military base (see section 2.a.).
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On January 2, police in the Luoxi neighborhood of Guangzhou preemptively
detained dozens of activists, including organizer Xu Lin, for planning a
musical performance and poetry recitation at a public square to celebrate
the New Year.
On February 23, Liu Yuandong, Sun Desheng, and 12 others were detained in
Guangdong for their participation in protests directed at North Korea’s
nuclear test. Most of the protesters were freed or given administrative
detentions, but police formally arrested and charged Liu on April 3.
According to media reports, police subjected Liu and Sun to mistreatment
in custody including sleep deprivation. On April 12, authorities in
Dongguan, Guangdong Province, gave four activists administrative
detentions after they held up banners calling for Liu’s release. On
August 13, authorities in Guangzhou again detained Sun Desheng for the
crimes of gathering crowds and disrupting public order.
In May, Chengdu authorities preemptively deployed 170,000 security
personnel throughout the city on the date of a planned protest against
the construction of a nearby petrochemical plant and its production of
paraxylene. Authorities also detained suspected activists in the days
leading up to the planned protest.
Also in May, Changsha authorities in Hunan Province detained Xiang Yuhan
following his organization of a peaceful march of 100 persons in
commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia. Xiang was
confined for 12 days in administrative detention on a charge of “illegal
protest.”
In February the Nanjing NGO Tianxiagong (Justice for All) won a lawsuit
against a hotel in Suzhou that in 2012 had canceled its conference
reservations at the last moment on order from the local PSB. In May
another NGO’s legal rights conference in Hangzhou faced similar
obstructions when hotels canceled reservations. The hotels informed the
NGO that Zhejiang and Jiangsu province security officers ordered
authorities not to permit holding the gathering anywhere in the
provinces.
All concerts, sports events, exercise classes, or other meetings of more
than 200 persons require approval from public security authorities.
Although peaceful protests are legal, police rarely granted approval.
Despite restrictions there were many demonstrations, but those with
political or social themes were broken up quickly, sometimes with
excessive force. The number of “mass incidents” and protests, including
some violent protests, against local governments increased during the
year. According to an international NGO, a former leading member of
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the CCP’s Politics and Law Commission stated that the country experienced
30,000 to 50,000 mass incidents every year. As in past years, the vast
majority of demonstrations concerned land disputes; housing problems;
industrial, environmental, and labor matters; government corruption;
taxation; and other economic and social concerns. Others were provoked by
accidents or were related to personal petitions, administrative
litigation, and other legal processes.
Disputes over land expropriation continued to trigger large-scale clashes
between police and protesters.
The law protects an individual’s ability to petition the government, but
persons petitioning the government faced restrictions on their rights to
assemble and raise grievances (see section 1.d.). Most petitions
addressed grievances about land, housing, entitlements, the environment,
or corruption. Most petitioners sought to present their complaints at
national and provincial “letters and visits” offices.
Although banned by regulations, retaliation against petitioners
reportedly continued. This was partly due to incentives the central
government provided to local officials to prevent petitioners from
raising complaints to higher levels. Incentives included provincial cadre
evaluations based in part on the number of petitions from their
provinces. This initiative aimed to encourage local and provincial
officials to resolve legitimate complaints but also resulted in local
officials sending security personnel to Beijing and forcibly returning
the petitioners to their home provinces to prevent them from filing
complaints against local officials with the central government. Such
detentions often went unrecorded. Rules issued by the General Office of
the State Council mandate sending officials from Beijing to the provinces
to resolve petition problems locally, thereby reducing the number of
petitioners entering Beijing. The rules also mandate a 60-day response
time for petitions and provide for a single appeal in each case.
Petitioners faced harassment, illegal detention, and even more severe
forms of punishment when attempting to travel to Beijing to present their
grievances.
On January 5, authorities prevented 13 petitioners from Fujian Province
from requesting assistance with their petitions from a foreign embassy in
Beijing. According to online reports, police detained six of the
petitioners for five days and one petitioner for 10 days.
Freedom of Association
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The law provides for freedom of association, but the government
restricted this right. CCP policy and government regulations require that
all professional, social, and economic organizations officially register
with, and receive approval from the government. These regulations
prevented the formation of truly autonomous political, human rights,
religious, spiritual, labor, and other organizations that the government
believed might challenge its authority.
The government maintained tight controls over civil society
organizations.
According to regulations issued by the State Administration for Foreign
Exchange, foreign exchange donations to or by domestic institutions must
“comply with the laws and regulations…and shall not go against social
morality or damage public interests and the legitimate rights and
interests of other citizens.” For donations to a domestic organization
from a foreign NGO, the regulations require all parties and the banks to
approve additional measures prior to processing a transaction.
Application of the regulation varied, with some NGOs successfully
navigating the requirements, others identifying other options by which to
receive funds, and some severely limiting or shutting down operations.
To register, an NGO must find a government agency to serve as its
organizational sponsor, have a registered office, and hold a minimum
amount of funds. Some organizations with social or educational purposes
that previously registered as private or for-profit businesses reportedly
were requested to find a government sponsor and reregister as NGOs during
the year. Finding a government sponsor was often very difficult, since
the government department can be held responsible if the NGO engages in
sensitive behavior. In March the NPC announced changes for NGO
registration that waived the requirement to find a government sponsor.
However, these changes only apply to four types of NGOs – industrial
associations, charities, community services, and organizations dedicated
to the promotion of technology. NGO sources reported that the new
regulations do not apply to organizations primarily focused on advocacy
or rights promotion.
In July the Ministry of Civil Affairs announced the intention to pass
legislation that would allow international NGOs to register with
provincial civil affairs authorities instead of the ministry. By year’s
end the legislation had not been promulgated.
In 2012 Guangdong provincial government officials initiated proposals
aimed at facilitating the operations and work of many NGOs, including,
for example, simplifying registration procedures so that certain
categories of NGOs could register directly with the Ministry of Civil
Affairs. Implementation of regulations
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associated with these proposals was often inconsistent. Although some
NGOs perceived to be working in nonpolitically sensitive areas enjoyed
increased opportunities, others continued to face interference from
authorities, for example, through increased financial scrutiny. Labor
NGOs in Shenzhen continued to face a challenging environment, including
registration hurdles and occasional government interference with their
activities.
Although registered organizations all came under some degree of
government control, some NGOs were able to operate with a greater degree
of independence.
The number of NGOs continued to grow, despite the restrictions and
regulations. The government used the term “social organization” to
categorize social groups (shehui tuanti), such as trade and professional
associations; civil noncommercial units (minban fei qiye danwei), which
are the equivalent of nonprofit service providers; and foundations
(jijinhui). The last category included two types of foundations: public
fundraising and private fundraising foundations. The government continued
to impose fundraising limits on private foundations.
According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, by the end of 2012 there were
at least one million NGOs either operating without legal status or
registered as companies. The country had approximately 462,000 legally
registered social organizations, including 255,000 social groups, 204,000
civil noncommercial units, and 2,614 foundations. In 2012 an official of
the Ministry of Civil Affairs wrote, “In 2007 China started to use the
term ‘social organization’ instead of ‘civil organization’ because
‘civil’ contrasts with ‘official’ and reflected the opposing roles of
civil society and government in the traditional political order. The 16th
and 17th CCP Congresses changed the name to ‘social organization.’ NGOs
existed under a variety of formal and informal guises, including national
mass organizations created and funded by the CCP, known as ‘government
NGOs.’”
The lack of legal registration created numerous logistical challenges for
NGOs, including difficulty opening bank accounts and receiving foreign
funding, hiring workers, fundraising, and renting office space. NGOs that
opted not to partner with government agencies could register as
commercial consulting companies, which allowed them to obtain legal
recognition at the cost of forgoing tax-free status. Security authorities
routinely warned domestic NGOs, regardless of their registration status,
not to accept donations from the foreign-funded National Endowment for
Democracy and other international organizations deemed sensitive by the
government.
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In July officials from the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau raided, closed,
and confiscated materials from the think tank Transition Institute for
not registering properly. The institute registered as a business, and its
head, Guo Yushan, was associated with the New Citizens Movement and
activists such as Chen Guangcheng and Xu Zhiyong.
Authorities supported the growth of some NGOs that focused on social
problems such as poverty alleviation and disaster relief, but remained
concerned that these organizations might emerge as a source of political
opposition. NGOs working in the TAR and other Tibetan areas faced an
increasingly difficult operating environment, and many were forced to
curtail their activities altogether due to travel restrictions, official
intimidation of staff members, and the failure of local partners to renew
project agreements.
No laws or regulations specifically govern the formation of political
parties. The Chinese Democracy Party remained banned, and the government
continued to monitor, detain, and imprison current and former CDP
members.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at
www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of
Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel,
emigration, and repatriation, but the government generally did not
respect these rights. While seriously restricting its scope of
operations, the government occasionally cooperated with the Office of the
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which maintained an office in
Beijing, to provide protection and assistance to refugees, asylum
seekers, and other persons of concern.
Increasingly the government silenced activists by denying them permission
to travel, both internationally and domestically, or keeping them under
unofficial house arrest. In the spring officials denied Jiangsu
environmental activist Wu Lihong a passport to travel abroad to accept a
human rights award, although his wife and daughter were eventually
permitted to travel and accepted the award on his behalf. Uighur
economist Ilham Tohti was detained at Beijing airport and prevented from
traveling abroad to accept a position as a visiting scholar.
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In-country Movement: Authorities heightened restrictions on freedom of
movement, particularly to curtail the movement of individuals deemed
politically sensitive, before key anniversaries, visits by foreign
dignitaries, or major political events and to forestall demonstrations.
Freedom of movement continued to be very limited in the TAR and other
Tibetan areas. Police maintained checkpoints in most counties and on
roads leading into many towns, as well as within major cities such as
Lhasa. Tibetans from other provinces reported that authorities subjected
them to onerous documentation requirements to enter the TAR and required
Tibetans who were not residents of Lhasa to obtain permission to enter
the city, often forcing them to stay in specially designated
accommodations, requirements not imposed on Han Chinese visitors to the
TAR.
In 2012 prominent Tibetan poet and blogger Woeser, a Beijing resident,
was required to leave Beijing and return to Lhasa for three months before
and during the 18th Party Congress in Beijing. Uighur economics professor
Ilham Tohti was also required to leave Beijing during the Party Congress.
Feng Zhenghu, Mao Hengfeng, and other Shanghai activists reported being
repeatedly detained upon arrival in Beijing when attempting to visit
other activists or petition the national government.
Although the government maintained restrictions on the freedom to change
one’s workplace or residence, the national household registration system
(hukou) continued to change, and the ability of most citizens to move
within the country to work and live continued to expand. Rural residents
continued to migrate to the cities, where the per capita disposable
income was more than four times the rural per capita income, but many
could not change their official residence or workplace within the
country. Most cities had annual quotas for the number of new temporary
residence permits that could be issued, and all workers, including
university graduates, had to compete for a limited number of such
permits. It was particularly difficult for rural residents to obtain
household registration in more economically developed urban areas.
The household registration system added to the difficulties rural
residents faced even after they relocated to urban areas and found
employment. According to the 2012 Statistical Communique of the People’s
Republic of China on 2012 National Economic and Social Development
published in February by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social
Security, 279 million persons lived outside the jurisdiction of their
household registration. Of that number, 236 million individuals worked
outside their home district. Many migrant workers and their
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families faced numerous obstacles with regard to working conditions and
labor rights. Many were unable to access public services, such as public
education or social insurance, in the cities where they lived and worked
because they were not legally registered urban residents. Poor treatment
and difficulty integrating into local communities contributed to
increased unrest among migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta. Migrant
workers had little recourse when abused by employers and officials. Some
major cities maintained programs to provide migrant workers and their
children access to public education and other social services free of
charge, but migrants in some locations reported difficulty in obtaining
these benefits due to the onerous bureaucratic processes involved in
obtaining access to urban services.
Under the “staying at prison employment” system applicable to recidivists
incarcerated in RTL camps, authorities denied certain persons permission
to return to their homes after serving their sentences. Some released or
paroled prisoners returned home but were not permitted freedom of
movement.
Foreign Travel: The government permitted legal emigration and foreign
travel for most citizens. Some academics and activists continued to face
travel restrictions, especially around sensitive anniversaries (see
section 1.d.). The government exercised exit control for departing
passengers at airports and other border crossings and utilized this exit
control to deny foreign travel to dissidents and persons employed in
sensitive government posts. Throughout the year lawyers, artists,
authors, and other activists were at times prevented from freely exiting
the country. Border officials and police cited threats to “national
security” as the reason for refusing permission to leave the country.
Authorities stopped most persons at the airport at the time of the
attempted travel. Wuxi environmental activist Wu Lihong was prevented
from traveling abroad to accept a human rights award in July. Shanghai
activist Zheng Enchong was prevented from accepting a teaching fellowship
in Hong Kong in August. Shanghai activist Chen Jianfang was prevented
from traveling to a UN human rights training course in Geneva in
September. Well known artist Ai Weiwei was denied a passport to attend
exhibitions of his work abroad. Other activists also reported being
blocked from traveling abroad.
Most citizens could obtain passports, although those government deemed
potential threats, including religious leaders, political dissidents,
petitioners, and ethnic minorities, reported routinely being refused
passports or otherwise prevented from traveling overseas.
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Ethnic Uighurs, particularly those residing in the XUAR, reported that it
was very difficult to get a passport application approved at the local
level. They were frequently denied passports to travel abroad,
particularly to Saudi Arabia for the haj, other Muslim countries, or
Western countries for academic or other purposes. Authorities reportedly
seized valid passports of some residents of the XUAR and other citizens.
In the TAR and Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces,
ethnic Tibetans experienced great difficulty acquiring passports. The
unwillingness of Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas to issue or renew
passports for ethnic Tibetans created, in effect, a ban on foreign travel
for a large segment of the Tibetan population. Han residents of Tibetan
areas did not experience the same difficulties.
Authorities denied Tibetan blogger and poet Woeser’s passport
application, preventing her from receiving the Secretary of State’s
International Women of Courage award in person. According to an RFA
report, in June authorities placed Woeser and her husband under house
arrest for speaking up about conditions in Tibet ahead of a
state-sponsored trip by foreign journalists to the TAR.
Exile: The law neither provides for a citizen’s right to repatriate nor
addresses exile. The government continued to refuse reentry to numerous
Chinese citizens who were considered dissidents, Falun Gong activists, or
“troublemakers.” Although authorities allowed some dissidents living
abroad to return, dissidents released on medical parole and allowed to
leave the country often were effectively exiled. Authorities imprisoned
some activists residing abroad upon their return to the country.
Emigration and Repatriation: The government continued to try to prevent
many Tibetans and Uighurs from leaving the country and detained many who
were apprehended in flight (see Tibet Annex). During the year 171
Tibetans transited the UNHCR reception center in Kathmandu. There also
were reports of the forcible return of Uighur asylum seekers from
Malaysia in 2012. Of a group of 20 Uighurs returned from Cambodia in
2009, three persons, a woman and two children, were reportedly freed, and
in 2011, 16 others received prison sentences ranging from 16 years to
life. Chinese authorities continued to refuse to provide information
regarding the whereabouts of the remaining individual.
Protection of Refugees
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Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of refugee or
asylee status, and the government did not establish a system for
providing protection to refugees. Although the government does not grant
refugee or asylee status, it allowed the UNHCR more latitude in assisting
non-North Korean and non-Burmese refugees. The UNHCR office in Beijing
recognized approximately 100 refugees from Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and
Eritrea and was processing approximately 100 additional individuals who
requested refugee status. Because the PRC did not officially recognize
these individuals as refugees, they remained in the country as illegal
immigrants unable to work, with no access to education, and subject to
deportation at any time.
Refoulement: The government did not provide protection against the
expulsion or forcible return of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers,
especially North Korean and Kachin refugees, to countries where their
lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion,
nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political
opinion. The government continued to consider all North Koreans “economic
migrants” rather than refugees or asylum seekers, and the UNHCR continued
to have no access to North Korean or Burmese refugees inside China. The
lack of access to durable solutions and options, as well as constant fear
of forced repatriation by authorities, left North Korean refugees
vulnerable to human traffickers. Reports of various exploitation schemes
targeting North Korean refugees, such as forced marriages, forced labor,
and prostitution, were common. The government continued to deny the UNHCR
permission to operate along its borders with North Korea and Burma.
Some North Koreans who entered diplomatic compounds in the country were
permitted to travel to foreign countries after waiting for periods of up
to two years.
On May 27, there were reports that the government of Laos coordinated
with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to deport nine
North Korean asylum seekers from Laos to China. On June 3, the Foreign
Ministry spokesperson stated the nine individuals entered China on May 27
and subsequently left Beijing bound for the DPRK holding valid travel
documents and visas.
After two-time North Korean defector and South Korean citizen Kim
Kwang-ho defected from North Korea to China for the second time, Chinese
security officials in Yanji, Jilin Province, detained Kim, his wife Kim
Ok-sil, and their daughter in July and held them until August before
allowing them to return to South Korea. Chinese authorities reportedly
repatriated to North Korea Kim’s North Korean brother- and sister-in-law,
who defected with him.
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Refugee Abuse: The intensified crackdown begun in 2008 against North
Korean asylum seekers and refugees reportedly extended to harassment of
religious communities along the border. The government arrested and
detained individuals who provided food, shelter, transportation, and
other assistance to North Koreans. According to reports some activists or
brokers detained for assisting North Koreans were charged with human
smuggling, and in some cases the North Koreans were forcibly returned.
There were also reports that North Korean agents operated clandestinely
within the country to repatriate North Korean citizens forcibly.
According to press reports, some North Koreans detained by Chinese police
faced repatriation unless they could pay bribes to secure their release.
Access to Basic Services: Undocumented children of some North Korean
asylum seekers and of mixed couples (i.e., one Chinese parent and one
North Korean parent) did not have access to health care, public
education, or other social services due to lack of legal status.
Durable Solutions: The government largely cooperated with the UNHCR when
dealing with the resettlement of ethnic Han Chinese or ethnic minorities
from Vietnam and Laos who resided in the country since the Vietnam War
era. During the year the government and the UNHCR continued discussions
concerning the granting of citizenship to these long-term residents and
their children, many of whom were born in China.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change
Their Government
The constitution states that “all power in the People’s Republic of China
belongs to the people” and that the organs through which the people
exercise state power are the NPC and the people’s congresses at
provincial, district, and local levels. While the law provides citizens
the right to change their government peacefully, citizens cannot freely
choose or change the laws or officials that govern them. In fact the CCP
controlled virtually all elections and continued to control appointments
to positions of political power.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: The NPC, composed of up to 3,000 deputies, elects the
president and vice president, the premier and vice premiers, and the
chairman of the State Central Military Commission. The NPC Standing
Committee, which
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consisted of 175 members, oversaw these elections and determined the
agenda and procedures for the NPC.
The NPC Standing Committee remained under the direct authority of the
CCP, and most legislative decisions require the concurrence of the CCP’s
seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. Despite its broad authority
under the state constitution, the NPC did not set policy independently or
remove political leaders without the CCP’s approval.
According to Ministry of Civil Affairs statistics, almost all of the
country’s more than 600,000 villages had implemented direct elections for
members of local subgovernmental organizations known as village
committees. The direct election of officials by ordinary citizens
remained narrow in scope and strictly confined to the local level. The
government estimated that serious procedural flaws marred one-third of
all elections. Corruption, vote buying, and interference by
township-level and CCP officials continued to be problems. The law
permits each voter to cast proxy votes for up to three other voters.
The election law governs legislative bodies at all levels, although
compliance and enforcement was uneven across the country. Under this law
citizens have the opportunity every five years to vote for local people’s
congress representatives at the county level and below, although in most
cases higher-level government officials or CCP cadres controlled the
nomination of candidates in those elections. At higher levels legislators
selected people’s congress delegates from among their ranks. For example,
provincial-level people’s congresses selected delegates to the NPC. Local
CCP secretaries generally served concurrently within the leadership team
of the local people’s congress, thus strengthening CCP control over
legislatures.
In 2012 the local governments kept most independent candidates – those
without official government backing – off the ballots despite their
meeting nomination criteria. No declared independent candidates won
election in 2012. Election officials pressured independent candidates to
renounce their candidacies, manipulated the ballot to exclude independent
candidates, refused to disclose electorate information to independent
candidates, and sometimes adjusted electoral districts to dilute voter
support for independent candidates.
In September an independent People’s Congress candidate from Foshan City,
Guangdong Province, who was detained in 2011 during the People’s Congress
representative elections that year on a charge of undermining elections,
was tried
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and found guilty of “disrupting elections.” According to open source
websites, hundreds of her supporters who wanted to observe her trial were
denied access to the court.
Political Parties: Official statements asserted, “The political party
system [that] China has adopted is multi-party cooperation and political
consultation under” CCP leadership. The CCP, however, retained a monopoly
on political power, and the government forbade the creation of new
political parties. The government officially recognized nine parties
founded prior to 1949, and parties other than the CCP held 30 percent of
the seats in the NPC. Activists attempting to support unofficial parties
were arrested, detained, or confined.
In 2009 in Hunan Province, dissident Xie Changfa, who tried to organize a
national meeting of the banned CDP, was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Guo Quan, a former Nanjing University professor and founder of the China
New Democracy Party, remained imprisoned following his 2009 sentence to
10 years in prison and three years’ deprivation of political rights for
“subversion of state power.” Guo published articles criticizing the
country’s one-party system. Other current or former CDP members,
including Yang Tianshui, remained in prison or in RTL camps for their
calls for political reform and their affiliation with the CDP.
Participation of Women and Minorities: While the government placed no
special restrictions on the participation of women or minority groups in
the political process, women held few positions of significant influence
in the CCP or government structure. Among the 2,987 delegates of the 11th
NPC (term 2008-13), 637 were women (21 percent).
Ten women occupied ministerial or higher-ranked positions.
According to government-provided information, there were more than 230
female provincial and ministerial officials, 10 percent of the overall
total; 670 female mayors and vice mayors, twice the number from 1995; and
one provincial governor, Li Bin in Anhui Province (until June). A total
of 37 women were members of provincial standing committees, constituting
9 percent of standing committee members. Following the 18th Party
Congress in November, two women were members of the CCP’s 25-member
Politburo. There were no women in the Standing Committee of the
Politburo. There were approximately 15 million female CCP cadres,
approximately one-fifth of the party’s membership.
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The government encouraged women to exercise their right to vote in
village committee elections and to run in those elections, although only
a small fraction of elected members were women. In many locations a seat
on the village committee was reserved for a woman, who was usually given
responsibility for family planning. The election law provides a general
mandate for quotas for female and ethnic minority representatives, but
achieving these quotas often required election authorities to violate the
election procedures specified in the election law. During the 2011-12
local people’s congresses elections, many electoral districts in which
independent candidates campaigned used these quotas as justification to
thwart the independent candidacies.
A total of 411 delegates from 55 ethnic minorities were members of 11th
NPC, accounting for 14 percent of the total number of delegates. All of
the country’s officially recognized minority groups were represented.
The 18th Communist Party Congress elected 10 members of ethnic minority
groups as members of the Central Committee.
The only ministerial-level post held by an ethnic minority member was in
the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, headed by Yang Jing, an ethnic
Mongol from Inner Mongolia. Until November 2012 Hui Liangyu of the Hui
ethnic group was a member of the Politburo. Minorities held few senior
CCP or government positions of significant influence (see also section 6,
National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities).
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
Although according to the law officials face criminal penalties for
corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and
officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Many
cases of corruption involved areas heavily regulated by the government,
such as land-usage rights, real estate, and infrastructure development,
which were susceptible to fraud, bribery, and kickbacks. Court judgments
often could not be enforced against powerful special entities, including
government departments, state-owned enterprises, military personnel, and
some members of the CCP.
While corruption remained a serious problem, there were increasing
indications that the government recognized the seriousness of the
problem.
In January the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the
CCP’s leading body for countering corruption among members, reported that
it had
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investigated 155,144 corruption-related cases and closed 153,704 of them
and that the CCP and government had disciplined 160,718 officials.
In October the Supreme People’s Procuratorate reported that prosecutors
nationwide had investigated 18,283 cases involving bribery and major
embezzlement from January to August. Among the suspects were 129
officials at the director general level and above.
In December the CCP Central Committee unveiled a five-year plan to punish
and prevent corruption. On December 26, the CCDI reported it had punished
25,855 individuals for breaches to antibureaucracy and formalism rules
during the year, including 6,247 CCP officials.
In February 2012 the NPC’s Standing Committee amended the criminal law to
make citizens and companies paying bribes to foreign government officials
and officials of international public organizations subject to criminal
punishments of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine.
In October 2012 the government established a “frugal working style” rule
barring government officials from spending public money on luxury items
such as lavish banquets and luxury cars and from accepting expensive
gifts. In September the government banned officials from using public
money to send mooncakes as gifts and in December published regulations
that banned dishes containing shark fin, bird nests, and wild animal
products from official banquets. In December the government issued
guidelines forbidding officials from chartering planes or flying in
private or corporate jets overseas.
In 2012 the Supreme People’s Court urged local courts to ban family
members of officials and judges from being lawyers under the local
court’s jurisdiction. Also in 2012 the Higher People’s Court of Fujian
Province forbade judges from meeting privately with representatives in a
case.
In February 2012 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced the
availability of a national bribery database listing individuals and
companies found guilty of certain offenses, including bribing an
individual or entity, and facilitating bribery. Companies and individuals
must apply in writing to have the procuratorate check nationwide to
determine whether a particular individual or company has been convicted
of bribery offenses in the PRC. Companies must provide a copy of their
business license.
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In June 2012 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate stated it would
strengthen measures to recover and freeze illegal assets transferred
abroad by corrupt officials.
Corruption: In numerous cases during the year, public officials and
leaders of state-owned enterprises, who generally hold high CCP ranks,
were investigated for corruption. In June the CCDI announced that Guo
Yongxiang, a former deputy governor of Sichuan Province, was under
investigation for suspected disciplinary violations.
In July a Beijing court sentenced former railroads minister Liu Zhijun to
death, with a two-year reprieve. Liu came under scrutiny for his
mismanagement of the country’s high-speed train network.
On August 26, the Ministry of Supervision announced that Wang Yongchun, a
vice president at state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and
the general manager of Daqing oilfield in Heilongjiang Province, was
being investigated for “severe disciplinary violations.”
In September the Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate confirmed that
it had indicted former Jilin vice governor Tian Xueren on corruption
charges but did not provide a trial date or information about the
specific charges against him. Tian was reported to have been stripped of
both his party membership and government position for taking bribes.
In December the CCDI investigated Vice-Minister of Public Security Li
Dongsheng for “suspected serious law and discipline violations.”
Notable organizations that worked to address official corruption included
the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Ministry of
Supervision, the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention, the
International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, and the
Anti-Corruption and Governance Research Center at Tsinghua University.
Whistleblower Protection: In 1991 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate
published the Regulation to Protect Citizen’s Whistleblowing Rights.
Whistleblowing protections are also included in various criminal and
labor laws. Legal experts opined, however, that the constellation of laws
and regulations did not provide adequate protections to whistleblowers.
In September the government created an official website for citizens to
report fraud, graft, and government mismanagement,
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with priority given to those who provide their real names and contact
information. The government does not provide legal protection for
whistleblowers who do not use official channels.
Financial Disclosure: A 2010 regulation requires officials in government
agencies or state-owned enterprises at the county level or above to
report their ownership of property, including that in their spouses’ or
children’s names, as well as their families’ investments in financial
assets and enterprises. According to Article 23 of the regulations, the
monitoring bodies are the CCDI, the Organization Department of the CCP,
and the Ministry of Supervision. The regulations do not state that
declarations are to be made public. Instead, they are to go to a higher
administrative level and a human resource department. Punishments for not
declaring information vary from education on the regulations, warning
talks, and adjusting one’s work position to being relieved of one’s
position. Regulations further state that officials should report all
income, including allowances, subsidies and bonuses, as well as income
from other jobs such as giving lectures, writing, consulting, reviewing
articles, painting, and calligraphy. Officials, their spouses, and the
children who live with them also should report their real estate
properties and financial investments. Government officials should report
their marriage status, records of private travel abroad, marriage status
of their children, and whether their spouses are from Hong Kong, Taiwan,
or a foreign country. They must report whether their children live
abroad, as well as the work status of their children and grandchildren
(including those who live abroad). Officials are required to file reports
annually and must report changes of personal status within 30 days.
In December 2012 officials announced that Guangdong Province would pilot
a program in select districts requiring all CCP and government officials
to report their assets publicly, with officials who refuse to do so to be
relieved of their posts and subjected to further investigations. This
program was not put into practice by year’s end.
Public Access to Information: Open-government information regulations
allow citizens to request information from the government. The
regulations require government authorities to create formal channels for
information requests and to include an appeal process if requests are
rejected or not answered. They stipulate that administrative agencies
should reply to requests immediately to the extent possible. Otherwise,
the administrative agency should provide the information within 15
working days, with the possibility of a maximum extension of an
additional 15 days. In cases in which third-party rights and interests
are involved,
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the time needed to consult the third party does not count against the
time limits. According to the regulations, administrative agencies may
collect only cost-based fees (as determined by the State Council) for
searching, photocopying, postage, and similar expenses when disclosing
government information on request. Citizens requesting information can
also apply for a fee reduction or exemption. The regulations include
exceptions for state secrets, commercial secrets, and individual privacy.
Publicly released provincial- and national-level statistics for
open-government information requests showed wide disparities across
localities, levels of government, and departments in numbers of requests
filed and official documents released in response.
If information requestors believe that an administrative agency has
violated the regulations, they can report it to the next higher-level
administrative agency, the supervision agency, or the department in
charge of open-government information. In 2011 the Supreme People’s Court
ruled that citizens can sue any government department that refused to
provide unclassified information. Shortly thereafter a Tsinghua
University graduate student sued three government ministries after her
requests for information regarding the duties of 14 ministries for use in
her thesis were denied. A court delayed consideration of her case pending
further research, and she withdrew her lawsuit after the ministries
provided the requested information.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The government sought to maintain control over civil society groups, halt
the emergence of independent NGOs, hinder the activities of civil society
and rights’ activist groups, and prevent what it called the
“Westernization” of the country. The government did not permit
independent domestic NGOs to monitor openly or to comment on human rights
conditions, and it harassed domestic NGOs. The government tended to be
suspicious of independent organizations and scrutinized NGOs with
financial and other links overseas. Most large NGOs were
quasi-governmental, and many official NGOs had to be sponsored by
government agencies. The NPC introduced new registration procedures in
March that allowed certain types of nonadvocacy NGOs to register directly
with the Ministry of Civil Affairs (see section 2.b., Freedom of
Association).
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An informal network of activists around the country continued to serve as
a credible source of information about human rights violations. The
information was disseminated through organizations such as the Hong
Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, the
foreign-based Human Rights in China, and Chinese Human Rights Defenders
and via the internet.
The government remained reluctant to accept criticism of its human rights
record by other nations or international organizations. It criticized
reports by international human rights monitoring groups, claiming that
such reports were inaccurate and interfered with the country’s internal
affairs. Representatives of some international human rights organizations
reported that authorities denied their visa requests or restricted the
length of visas issued to them. The government continued to participate
in official diplomatic human rights dialogues with foreign governments
although some governments encountered problems scheduling such dialogues.
Government Human Rights Bodies: The government did not have a human
rights ombudsman or commission. The government-established China Society
for Human Rights was an NGO whose mandate is to defend the government’s
human rights record. The government maintained that each country’s
economic, social, cultural, and historical conditions influenced its
approach to human rights.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
While there were laws designed to protect women, children, persons with
disabilities, and minorities, some discrimination based on ethnicity,
sex, disability, and other factors persisted.
Women
Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is illegal, and some persons convicted
of rape were executed. The penalties for rape can range from three years
in prison to a death sentence with a two-year reprieve and forced labor.
The law does not address spousal rape. The government did not make
available official statistics on rape or sexual assault, leaving the
scale of sexual violence difficult to determine. Migrant female workers
were particularly vulnerable to sexual violence.
Violence against women remained a significant problem. According to
reports at least a quarter of families suffered from domestic violence,
and more than 85 percent of the victims were women. Domestic violence
against women included verbal and psychological abuse, restrictions on
personal freedom,
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economic control, physical violence, and rape. The government supported
shelters for victims of domestic violence, and some courts provided
protections to victims, including through restraining orders prohibiting
a perpetrator of domestic violence from coming near a victim. In March,
Shaanxi Province designated the Number Two People’s Hospital as an
antidomestic violence service station to treat victims of domestic
violence, the first designation of its kind. Nonetheless, official
assistance did not always reach victims, and public security forces often
ignored domestic violence. In 2010 the All China Women’s Federation
(ACWF) reported that it received 50,000 domestic violence complaints
annually. Spousal abuse typically went unreported, and an ACWF study
found that only 7 percent of rural women who suffered domestic violence
sought help from police. Almost 30 percent of respondents in a recent
study felt that domestic violence should be kept a private matter.
While domestic violence tended to be more prevalent in rural areas, it
also occurred among the highly educated urban population. The ACWF
reported that approximately one-quarter of the 400,000 divorces
registered each year were the result of family violence.
According to ACWF statistics nationwide in 2008 there were 12,000 special
police booths for domestic violence complaints, 400 shelters for victims
of domestic violence, and 350 examination centers for women claiming
injuries from domestic violence. Many domestic violence shelters had
inadequate facilities, required extensive documentation, or went unused.
The government operated most shelters, some with NGO participation. In
2012 the government provided 680,000 office spaces in government
buildings for women’s resource centers.
There was no strong legal mechanism to protect women from domestic abuse.
According to the ACWF, laws related to domestic violence were flawed
since there was no national provision for dealing with offenders. During
the year the creation of such mechanisms was added to the NPC’s
legislative agenda, the fifth time the ACWF submitted such a proposal.
Both the marriage law and the law on the protection of women’s rights and
interests have stipulations that directly prohibit domestic violence, but
some experts complained that the stipulations were too general, failed to
define domestic violence, and were difficult to implement. Because of
standards of evidence, even if certain that domestic violence was
occurring, a judge could not rule against the abuser without the abuser’s
confession. Only 10 percent of accused abusers confessed to violent
behavior, according to 2009 data from the Institute of Applied Laws. The
institute reported that, although 40 to 60 percent of marriage and family
cases involved domestic violence, less
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than 30 percent were able to supply indirect evidence, including
photographs, hospital records, police records, or children’s testimony.
Witnesses seldom testified in court.
Public support increased in the fight against domestic violence. A recent
survey found that more than 85 percent of respondents believed that
further antidomestic violence legislation was needed. A high-profile
case, Kim Lee’s case against her celebrity husband, Li Yang, led to
public outcry when she posted pictures of her injuries on a social
networking site. After months of waiting, Lee was granted a civil
protection order forbidding her husband from approaching within 200 yards
of her. In February a Beijing court granted Lee a divorce on the grounds
of domestic abuse and issued a three-month protection order against her
former husband. This case set a precedent because the court acknowledged
domestic violence as grounds for divorce, granted a protection order, and
ordered the former husband to pay compensation for the violence she had
endured during their marriage.
Sexual Harassment: The law bans sexual harassment, and the number of
sexual harassment complaints increased significantly. A 2009 Harvard
University study showed that 80 percent of working women in the country
experienced sexual harassment at some stage of their careers. The same
study found that only 30 percent of sexual harassment claims by women
achieved favorable resolutions. In November an NGO published its survey
of female manufacturing workers in Guangzhou, which indicated that as
much as 70 percent of Guangzhou’s female workforce had been sexually
harassed. Approximately half did not pursue legal or administrative
actions, while 15 percent of respondents reported leaving the workplace
to escape their harasser.
Sexual harassment was not limited to the workplace. According to a China
Youth Daily survey reported in September, approximately 14 percent of
women had been sexually harassed while riding the subway, and 82 percent
of those polled believed the problem existed. At a Hainan Province
festival in 2012, a dozen women were pinned down by a crowd of men who
mauled the women and stripped off their clothes in broad daylight. Police
escorted the women away and, according to press reports, subsequently
detained six suspects in the assault.
According to information on the ACWF website, the internet and hotlines
made it easier for women who were sexually harassed to obtain useful
information and legal service. A Beijing rights lawyer told the ACWF that
approximately
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100-200 million women in the country had suffered or were suffering
sexual harassment in the workplace but that very few legal service
centers provided counseling.
Reproductive Rights: The government restricted the rights of parents to
choose the number of children they have. Although national law prohibits
the use of physical coercion to compel persons to submit to abortion or
sterilization, intense pressure to meet birth-limitation targets set by
government regulations resulted in instances of local family-planning
officials’ using physical coercion to meet government goals. Such
practices included the mandatory use of birth control and the abortion of
unauthorized pregnancies. In the case of families that already had two
children, one parent was often pressured to undergo sterilization.
The National Population and Family Planning Commission reported that 13
million women annually underwent abortions caused by unplanned
pregnancies. An official news media outlet also reported at least an
additional 10 million chemically induced abortions or abortions performed
in nongovernment facilities. Government statistics on the percentage of
all abortions that were nonelective was not available. According to
Health Ministry data released in March 2012, a total of 336 million
abortions and 222 million sterilizations had been carried out since 1971.
The national family-planning authorities shifted their emphasis from
lowering fertility rates to maintaining low fertility rates and
emphasized quality of care in family-planning practices. In 2010 a
representative of the National Population and Family Planning Commission
reported that 85 percent of women of childbearing age used contraception.
Of those, 70 percent used a reversible method. A survey taken in
September, however, found that only 12 percent of women between the ages
of 20 and 35 had a proper understanding of contraceptive methods. The
country’s birth-limitation policies retained harshly coercive elements in
law and practice. The financial and administrative penalties for
unauthorized births were strict.
The 2002 national population and family-planning law standardized the
implementation of the government’s birth-limitation policies, although
enforcement varied significantly. The law grants married couples the
right to have one birth and allows couples to apply for permission to
have a second child if they meet conditions stipulated in local and
provincial regulations. The one-child limit was more strictly applied in
urban areas, where only couples meeting certain conditions were permitted
to have a second child (e.g., if both of the would-be
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parents were an only child). In most rural areas couples were permitted
to have a second child in cases where their first child was a girl.
Ethnic minorities were subject to less stringent rules. Nationwide 35
percent of families fell under the one-child restrictions, and more than
60 percent of families were eligible to have a second child, either
outright or if they met certain criteria. The remaining 5 percent were
eligible to have more than two children. According to government
statistics, the average fertility rate for women nationwide was 1.8, and
in the country’s most populous and prosperous city, Shanghai, the
fertility rate was 0.8. In December the NPC Standing Committee amended
the one-child policy to allow couples in which at least one spouse is an
only child to have two children.
The National Population and Family Planning Commission reported that all
provinces eliminated the birth-approval requirement before a first child
is conceived, but provinces may still continue to require parents to
“register” pregnancies prior to giving birth to their first child. This
registration requirement could be used as a de facto permit system in
some provinces, since some local governments continued to mandate
abortion for single women who became pregnant. Provinces and localities
imposed fines of various amounts on unwed mothers.
Regulations requiring women who violate family-planning policy to
terminate their pregnancies still exist in Liaoning and Heilongjiang
provinces. Other provinces – Fujian, Guizhou, Guangdong, Gansu, Jiangxi,
Qinghai, Shanxi, and Shaanxi – require unspecified “remedial measures” to
deal with unauthorized pregnancies. A number of online media reports
indicated that migrant women applying for household registration in
Guangzhou were required to have an intrauterine contraceptive device
(IUD) implanted.
In October, Western media reported that officials from the Shandong
Province Family Planning Commission forced their way into the home of Liu
Xinwen, dragged her to a nearby hospital, and injected her with an
abortion-inducing drug. Shandong officials reportedly forced Liu, who was
six months into her pregnancy, to sign a document stating that she had
agreed to the abortion.
The government continued to impose “child-raising fees” on violators of
the one-child policy. In the first half of the year, for example,
Guangzhou City collected more than RMB 300 million ($49 million) in such
fees without disclosing how the money was used. Guangdong Province
reportedly refused to disclose the amount of fees it had collected from
one-child policy violators. Family planning officials
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in Tunchang County, Hainan Province, used fines and terminated employment
as punishment for one-child policy violators.
On December 30, overseas media reported that officials at Nurluq Hospital
in Keriye County of Xinjiang’s Hotan Prefecture carried out forced
abortions on four pregnant women. According to the report, the deputy
chief of Hotan’s Arish Township confirmed that authorities had carried
out four of six planned abortions utilizing abortion-inducing drugs. One
woman escaped and another was in the hospital awaiting the procedure, the
report stated. The head of the township’s Family Planning Department
stated the abortions were carried out following orders from higher
authorities. The husband of one victim stated that his wife had been
seven months’ pregnant when the procedure was performed and that the baby
had been born alive before succumbing to the effects of the chemical
toxins hours later.
The law requires each parent of an unapproved child to pay a “social
compensation fee,” which can reach 10 times a person’s annual disposable
income.
Social compensation fees were set and assessed at the local level. The
law requires family-planning officials to obtain court approval before
taking “forcible” action, such as detaining family members or
confiscating and destroying property of families who refuse to pay social
compensation fees. This requirement was not always followed, and national
authorities remained ineffective at reducing abuses by local officials.
The population control policy relied on education, propaganda, and
economic incentives, as well as on more coercive measures. Those who had
an unapproved child or helped another do so faced disciplinary measures
such as social compensation fees, job loss or demotion, loss of promotion
opportunity, expulsion from the CCP (membership is an unofficial
requirement for certain jobs), and other administrative punishments,
including in some cases the destruction of private property.
It continued to be illegal in almost all provinces for a single woman to
have a child, with fines levied for violations. The law states that
family-planning bureaus conduct pregnancy tests on married women and
provide them with unspecified “follow-up” services. Some provinces fined
women who did not undergo periodic pregnancy tests.
Officials at all levels remained subject to rewards or penalties based on
meeting the population goals set by their administrative region.
Promotions for local officials
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depended in part on meeting population targets. Linking job promotion
with an official’s ability to meet or exceed such targets provided a
powerful structural incentive for officials to employ coercive measures
to meet population goals. An administrative reform process initiated
pilot programs in some localities that removed this criterion for
evaluating officials’ performance.
Although the family-planning law states that officials should not violate
citizens’ rights in the enforcement of family-planning policy, these
rights, as well as penalties for violating them, are not clearly defined.
By law citizens may sue officials who exceed their authority in
implementing birth-planning policy, but few protections for
whistleblowers against retaliation from local officials exist (see
section 4, Whistleblower Protection). The law provides significant and
detailed sanctions for officials who help persons evade the birth
limitations.
According to online reports, women who registered newborns in Nanhai
District, Foshan, Guangdong Province, were requested to insert an IUD.
Many posted online complaints that officials threatened not to register
the baby if the mother did not comply, even when the newborn was the
mother’s only child. Other reports indicated that a mother could not
enroll her child in school if she was unwilling to insert an IUD.
Discrimination: The constitution states that “women enjoy equal rights
with men in all spheres of life.” The Law on the Protection of Women’s
Rights and Interests provides for equality in ownership of property,
inheritance rights, access to education, and equal pay for equal work.
The ACWF was the leading implementer of women’s policy for the
government, and the State Council’s National Working Committee on
Children and Women coordinated women’s policy. Many activists and
observers expressed concern that discrimination was increasing. Women
continued to report that discrimination, sexual harassment, unfair
dismissal, demotion, and wage discrepancies were significant problems.
Authorities often did not enforce laws protecting the rights of women.
According to legal experts, it was difficult to litigate
sex-discrimination suits because of vague legal definitions. Some
observers noted that the agencies tasked with protecting women’s rights
tended to focus on maternity-related benefits and wrongful termination
during maternity leave rather than on sex discrimination, violence
against women, and sexual harassment.
Despite government policies mandating nondiscrimination in employment and
remuneration, women reportedly earned 66 percent as much as men. The
Ministry
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of Human Resources and Social Security and the local labor bureaus are
responsible for ensuring that enterprises complied with the labor law and
the employment promotion law, each of which contains antidiscrimination
provisions.
Many employers preferred to hire men to avoid the expense of maternity
leave and childcare (paid paternity leave exists for men in some
localities, but there is no national provision for paternity leave). Work
units were allowed to impose an earlier mandatory retirement age for
women than for men, and some employers lowered the effective retirement
age for female workers to 50. In general the official retirement age for
men was 60 and for women 55. Lower retirement ages also reduced pensions,
which generally were based on the number of years worked. Job
advertisements for women sometimes specified height and age requirements.
Women’s rights advocates indicated that in rural areas women often
forfeited land and property rights to their husbands in divorce
proceedings. Rural contract law and laws protecting women’s rights
stipulate that women enjoy equal rights in cases of land management, but
experts argued that this was rarely the case due to the complexity of the
law and difficulties in its implementation. A 2011 interpretation of the
country’s marriage law by the Supreme People’s Court exacerbated the
gender wealth gap by stating that, after divorce, marital property
belongs solely to the person registered as the homeowner in mortgage and
registration documents – in most cases the husband. In determining child
custody in divorce cases, judges make determinations based on the
following guidelines: Children under age two should live with their
mothers; custody of children two to nine years of age should be
determined by who can provide the most stable living arrangement; and
children 10 and over should be consulted when determining custody.
A high female suicide rate continued to be a serious problem. There were
approximately 590 female suicides per day, according to a report released
in September 2012 by the Chinese Center for Disease and Control and
Prevention. This was more than the approximately 500 per day reported in
2009. The report noted that the suicide rate for women was three times
higher than for men. Many observers believed that violence against women
and girls, discrimination in education and employment, the traditional
preference for male children, birth-limitation policies, and other
societal factors contributed to the high female suicide rate. Women in
rural areas, where the suicide rate for women was three to four times
higher than for men, were especially vulnerable.
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The World Bank reported that in 2009, 99 percent of women between the
ages of 15 and 24 were literate, with a literacy rate of 91 percent for
women above 15 compared with 97 percent for men above 15.
Women faced discrimination in higher education. The required score for
the National Higher Entrance Exam was lower for men than for women at
several universities. According to 2010 Ministry of Education statistics,
women accounted for 49.6 percent of undergraduate students and 50.3
percent of master’s students in 2012 but only 35 percent of doctoral
students. Women with advanced degrees reported discrimination in the
hiring process, since the job distribution system became more competitive
and market driven.
Gender-based Sex Selection: According to the 2010 national census, the
national average male-female sex ratio at birth was 118 to 100. Sex
identification and sex-selective abortion were prohibited, but the
practices continued because of traditional preference for male children
and the birth-limitation policy.
Children
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from parents. Parents must
register their children in compliance with the national household
registration system within one month of birth. Unregistered children
cannot access public services. No data was available on the number of
unregistered births.
Education: Although the law provides for nine years of compulsory
education for children, in economically disadvantaged rural areas many
children did not attend school for the required period; some never
attended. Although public schools were not allowed to charge tuition,
faced with insufficient local and central government funding, many
schools continued to charge miscellaneous fees. Such fees and other
school-related expenses made it difficult for poorer families and some
migrant workers to send their children to school.
In 2010 the official literacy rate for youth (defined as persons between
the ages of 15 and 24) was 99 percent. The proportion of girls attending
school in rural and minority areas was reportedly smaller than in cities.
In rural areas 61 percent of boys and 43 percent of girls completed
education at a grade higher than lower middle school. The government
reported that nearly 20 million children of migrant laborers followed
their parents to urban areas. Denied access to state-run schools, most
children of migrant workers who attended school did so at unlicensed and
poorly equipped schools.
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Medical Care: Female babies suffered from a higher mortality rate than
male babies, which was contrary to the worldwide norm. State media
reported that infant mortality rates in rural areas were 27 percent
higher for girls than boys and that neglect was one factor in their lower
survival rate.
Child Abuse: The physical abuse of children can be grounds for criminal
prosecution. Kidnapping, buying, and selling children for adoption
increased during the past several years, particularly in poor rural
areas. There were no reliable estimates of the number of children
kidnapped, but according to media reports as many as 20,000 children were
kidnapped every year for illegal adoption. Most children kidnapped
internally were sold to couples unable to have children. Those convicted
of buying an abducted child may be sentenced to three years’
imprisonment. In the past most children rescued were boys, but increased
demand for children reportedly drove traffickers to focus on girls as
well. The Ministry of Public Security maintained a DNA database of
parents of missing children and children recovered in law enforcement
operations in an effort to reunite families.
Forced and Early Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 22 for
men and 20 for women. Child marriage was not known to be a problem, but
there were reports of babies sold to be future brides. For example,
families would adopt and raise babies for eventual marriage to their
sons.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: By law those who force young girls under
age 14 into prostitution may be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison,
in addition to a fine or confiscation of property. If the case is
especially serious, violators can receive a life sentence or be sentenced
to death, in addition to confiscation of property. Those inducing girls
under age 14 into prostitution can be sentenced to five years or more in
prison in addition to a fine. Those who visit female prostitutes under
age 14 are subject to five years or more in prison in addition to paying
a fine.
According to the law the minimum age for consensual sex is 14.
Pornography of any kind, including child pornography, is illegal. Under
the criminal code, those producing, reproducing, publishing, selling, or
disseminating obscene materials with the purpose of making a profit may
be sentenced up to three years in prison or put under criminal detention
or surveillance in addition to paying a fine. Offenders in serious cases
may receive prison sentences of three to 10 years in addition to paying a
fine. In especially serious cases offenders are to be sentenced to 10
years or more in prison or given a life sentence in addition to a fine
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or confiscation of property. Persons found disseminating obscene books,
magazines, films, audio or video products, pictures, or other kinds of
obscene materials, if the case is serious, may be sentenced up to two
years in prison or put under criminal detention or surveillance. Persons
organizing the broadcast of obscene motion pictures or other audio or
video products may be sentenced up to three years in prison or put under
criminal detention or surveillance in addition to paying a fine. If the
case is serious they are to be sentenced to three to 10 years in prison
in addition to paying a fine.
Those broadcasting or showing obscene materials to minors less than age
18 are to be “severely punished.”
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: The Law on the
Protection of Juveniles forbids infanticide, but there was evidence that
the practice continued. According to the National Population and
Family-planning Commission, a handful of doctors were charged with
infanticide under this law. Female infanticide, sex-selective abortions,
and the abandonment and neglect of baby girls remained problems due to
the traditional preference for sons and the coercive birth-limitation
policy.
Displaced Children: There were between 150,000 and one million urban
street children, according to state-run media. This number was even
higher if the children of migrant workers who spent the day on the
streets were included. In 2010 the ACWF reported that the number of
children in rural areas left behind by their migrant-worker parents
totaled 58 million, 40 million under the age of 14.
Institutionalized Children: The law forbids the mistreatment or
abandonment of children. The vast majority of children in orphanages were
girls, many of whom were abandoned. Boys in orphanages were usually
disabled or in poor health. Medical professionals sometimes advised
parents of children with disabilities to put the children into
orphanages.
The government denied that children in orphanages were mistreated or
refused medical care but acknowledged that the system often was unable to
provide adequately for some children, particularly those with serious
medical problems. Adopted children were counted under the
birth-limitation regulations in most locations. As a result, couples who
adopted abandoned infant girls were sometimes barred from having
additional children.
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International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980
Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
For information see the Department of State’s report at
travel.state.gov/abduction/resources/congressreport/congressreport_4308.h
tml.
Anti-Semitism
There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts during the year. The
government does not recognize Judaism as an ethnicity or religion.
According to information from the Jewish Virtual Library, the country’s
Jewish population was 2,500 in 2012.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at
www.state.gov/j/tip/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law protects the rights of persons with disabilities and prohibits
discrimination, but conditions for such persons lagged far behind legal
dictates and failed to provide persons with disabilities access to
programs intended to assist them.
According to Article 3 of the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons,
“disabled persons are entitled to enjoyment of equal rights as other
citizens in political, economic, cultural, and social fields, in family
life and other aspects. The rights of disabled persons as citizens and
their personal dignity are protected by law. Discrimination against,
insult of, and infringement upon disabled persons is prohibited.”
The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the China Disabled Persons Federation
(CDPF), a government-organized civil association, are the main entities
responsible for persons with disabilities. In June the CDPF stated that,
based on 2010 census figures, 85 million persons with disabilities lived
in the country. According to government statistics, in 2011 there were
5,254 vocational training facilities, which provided training for 299,000
persons with disabilities. Of the 32 million persons with disabilities of
working age, more than 22 million were employed. Government statistics
stated that 7.4 million persons with disabilities enjoyed
“minimum-life-guarantee” stipends, and nearly three million had social
insurance.
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The law prohibits discrimination against minors with disabilities and
codifies a variety of judicial protections for juveniles. In 2007 the
Ministry of Education reported that nationwide there were 1,618 schools
for children with disabilities. According to NGOs, there were
approximately 20 million children with disabilities, only 2 percent of
whom had access to education that could meet their needs.
According to the CDPF, in 2010 more than 519,000 school-age children with
disabilities received compulsory education, 68 percent of them in
inclusive education, and 32 percent in 1,705 special schools and 2,775
special classes. NGOs claimed that, while the overall school enrollment
rate was 99 percent, only 75 percent of children with disabilities were
enrolled in school. Nationwide, an estimated 243,000 school-age children
with disabilities did not attend school. In 2011 a total of 7,150 persons
with disabilities were admitted to standard colleges and universities.
Nearly 100,000 organizations existed, mostly in urban areas, to serve
those with disabilities and protect their legal rights. The government,
at times in conjunction with NGOs, sponsored programs to integrate
persons with disabilities into society.
Misdiagnosis, inadequate medical care, stigmatization, and abandonment
remained common problems. According to reports doctors frequently
persuaded parents of children with disabilities to place their children
in large government-run institutions where care was often inadequate.
Those parents who chose to keep children with disabilities at home
generally faced difficulty finding adequate medical care, day care, and
education for their children. Government statistics showed that almost
one-quarter of persons with disabilities lived in extreme poverty.
In part as a result of discrimination, unemployment among adults with
disabilities remained a serious problem. The law requires local
governments to offer incentives to enterprises that hire persons with
disabilities. Regulations in some parts of the country also require
employers to pay into a national fund for persons with disabilities when
the employees with disabilities do not make up the statutory minimum
percentage of the total workforce.
Standards adopted for making roads and buildings accessible to persons
with disabilities are subject to the Law on the Handicapped, which calls
for their “gradual” implementation. Compliance with the law was limited.
The law permits universities to exclude candidates with disabilities who
were otherwise qualified.
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The law forbids the marriage of persons with certain mental disabilities,
such as schizophrenia. If doctors find that a couple is at risk of
transmitting congenital disabilities to their children, the couple may
marry only if they agree to use birth control or undergo sterilization.
The law stipulates that local governments must employ such practices to
raise the percentage of births of children without disabilities.
National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Most minority groups resided in areas they traditionally inhabited.
Government policy calls for members of recognized minorities to receive
preferential treatment in birth planning, university admission, access to
loans, and employment. Nonetheless, the substance and implementation of
ethnic minority policies remained poor, and discrimination against
minorities remained widespread.
Minority groups in border and other regions had less access to education
than their Han counterparts, faced job discrimination in favor of Han
migrants, and earned incomes well below those in other parts of the
country. Government development programs often disrupted traditional
living patterns of minority groups and included, in some cases, the
forced relocation of persons. Han Chinese benefited disproportionately
from government programs and economic growth. As part of its emphasis on
building a “harmonious society” and maintaining social stability, the
government downplayed racism and institutional discrimination against
minorities, which remained the source of deep resentment in the XUAR, the
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR), the TAR, and other Tibetan
areas.
Ethnic minorities represented approximately 14 percent of delegates to
the NPC and more than 15 percent of NPC Standing Committee members,
according to an official report issued in 2011. A 2011 article in the
official online news source for overseas readers stated that ethnic
minorities comprised 41 percent of cadres in the Guangxi Zhuang
Autonomous Region, 25 percent of cadres in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region,
and 51 percent of cadres in the XUAR. According to a July 2012 article
from the official Xinhua News Agency, 32 percent of cadres in Yunnan
Province were members of an ethnic minority. A June 5 government report
stated that, of the 296 civil servants Guangxi Province recruited in
2012, almost 60 percent were ethnic minorities. During the year all five
of the country’s ethnic minority autonomous regions had chairmen
(equivalent to the governor of a province) from minority groups. The CCP
secretaries of these five autonomous regions were all Han. Han officials
continued to hold the majority of the most
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powerful CCP and government positions in minority autonomous regions,
particularly the XUAR.
The government’s policy to encourage Han Chinese migration into minority
areas significantly increased the population of Han in the XUAR. In
recent decades the Han-Uighur ratio in the capital of Urumqi reversed
from 20/80 to 80/20 and continued to be a source of Uighur resentment.
Discriminatory hiring practices gave preference to Han and reduced job
prospects for ethnic minorities. According to the 2010 national census,
8.75 million, or 40 percent, of the XUAR’s 21.8 million official
residents were Han. Hui, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uighur, and other ethnic
minorities constituted approximately 13 million XUAR residents, or 60
percent of the total population. Official statistics understated the Han
population, because they did not count the tens of thousands of Han
Chinese who were long-term “temporary workers.” As the government
continued to promote Han migration into the XUAR and filled local jobs
with domestic migrant labor, local officials coerced young Uighur women
to participate in a government-sponsored labor transfer program to cities
outside the XUAR, according to overseas human rights organizations.
The XUAR government took measures to dilute expressions of Uighur
identity, including reducing the use of ethnic minority languages in XUAR
schools and instituting Mandarin Chinese language requirements that
disadvantaged ethnic-minority teachers. The government continued to apply
policies that prioritized standard Chinese for instruction in school,
thereby reducing or eliminating ethnic-language instruction. The dominant
use of Mandarin Chinese in government, commerce, and academia
disadvantaged graduates of minority-language schools who lacked Mandarin
Chinese proficiency.
Authorities continued to implement repressive policies in the XUAR and
targeted the region’s ethnic Uighur population. Officials in the XUAR
continued to implement a pledge to crack down on the
government-designated “three forces” of religious extremism, “splittism,”
and terrorism, and they outlined efforts to launch a concentrated
antiseparatist re-education campaign. Some raids, detentions, and
judicial punishments ostensibly directed at individuals or organizations
suspected of promoting the “three forces” appeared to be targeted at
groups or individuals peacefully seeking to express their political or
religious views. The government continued to repress Uighurs expressing
peaceful political dissent and independent Muslim religious leaders,
often citing counterterrorism as the reason for taking action.
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According to the 2013 China Law Yearbook, authorities in 2012 arrested
1,105 individuals for “endangering state security,” a 19 percent increase
from 2011. The NGO Dui Hua estimated that arrests from Xinjiang accounted
for 75 percent of “endangering state security” charges.
Uighurs continued to be sentenced to long prison terms, and in some cases
executed without due process, on charges of separatism and endangering
state security. The government pressured foreign countries to repatriate
Uighurs, who faced the risk of imprisonment and mistreatment upon return.
Some Uighurs refouled to China have simply disappeared.
Freedom of assembly was severely limited during the year in the XUAR. For
information about violations of religious freedom in Xinjiang, please see
the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at
www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/.
Reportedly at year’s end one son of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer,
president of the World Uighur Conference, whom the government blamed for
orchestrating the 2009 riots in Urumqi, remained in prison.
Possession of publications or audiovisual materials discussing
independence, autonomy, or other sensitive subjects was not permitted.
Uighurs who remained in prison at year’s end for their peaceful
expression of ideas the government found objectionable included Abduhelil
Zunun. Reportedly, Uighur poet Nurmuhemmet Yasin, originally imprisoned
in 2005, died in prison in 2011.
XUAR and national-level officials defended the campaign against the three
forces of religious extremism, “splittism,” and terrorism and other
policies as necessary to maintain public order. Officials continued to
use the threat of violence as justification for extreme security measures
directed at the local population, journalists, and visiting foreigners.
The law criminalizes discussion of separatism on the internet and
prohibits use of the internet in any way that undermines national unity.
It further bans inciting ethnic separatism or “harming social stability,”
and requires internet service providers and network operators to set up
monitoring systems or to strengthen existing ones and report violations
of the law.
Han control of the region’s political and economic institutions also
contributed to heightened tension. Although government policies continued
to allot economic
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investment in and brought economic improvements to the XUAR, Han
residents received a disproportionate share of the benefits. Job
advertisements often made clear that Uighur applicants would not be
considered.
Reuters News Agency reported that in November police used electric batons
to prevent approximately 100 ethnic Mongols from attending the trial of
six nomadic herders charged with sabotaging production and intentionally
destroying property. Authorities arrested the six herders in June after a
confrontation with employees of a state-owned forestry company. Protests
against land seizures occurred throughout the year across the IMAR,
resulting in detentions and police abuse, as the regional government
sought to implement Beijing’s policy of resettling China’s nomadic
population.
(For specific information on Tibet, see the Tibet Annex.)
Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity
No laws criminalize private consensual same-sex activities between
adults. Due to societal discrimination and pressure to conform to family
expectations, most gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons
refrained from publicly discussing their sexual orientation. Individual
activists and organizations working on LGBT problems continued to report
discrimination and harassment from authorities, similar to other
organizations that accept funding from overseas.
In June 2012 the Beijing LGBT center was notified by property management
that its lease would be terminated early due to complaints that it was
too noisy. Neighbors reportedly pressured management to terminate the
lease after learning that it was an LGBT organization. The center was
able to recoup only less than one-half of its investment of RMB 11,000
($1,800) for the move.
In September organizers of the China Charity Fair in Shenzhen, Guangdong
Province, told two gay rights advocacy groups that they could not display
their advertisements and informational brochures because they were not
registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs. One of the advocacy groups
attempting to participate reported that his organization unsuccessfully
sought to register with the ministry for several years, despite making
dozens of visits to local government offices.
In contrast with 2012, there reportedly was no government interference
with the seventh Beijing Queer Film Festival. Organizers kept a low
profile.
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Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The law prohibits discrimination against persons carrying infectious
diseases and allows such persons to work as civil servants. The law does
not address some common types of discrimination in employment, including
discrimination based on height, physical appearance, or ethnic identity.
Despite provisions in the law, discrimination against persons with
HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B carriers (including 20 million chronic carriers)
remained widespread in many areas, and local governments sometimes tried
to suppress their activities. In August 2012 a man who was refused
employment after it was discovered he had hepatitis was awarded RMB 8,000
($1,310) in damages by a Xi’an court.
HIV/AIDS activist Wan Yanhai, founder and director of the Beijing-based
NGO Aizhixing, remained overseas after leaving the country in 2010. The
organization continued to come under pressure from the government.
Western media reported that on May 30, Guangxi activist Ye Haiyan, who
advocated for the rights of prostitutes and persons infected with
HIV/AIDS, was beaten in her home by a group of 10 police officers before
being detained at the local police station in Bobai County.
While in the past, persons with HIV/AIDS were routinely denied admission
to hospitals, discrimination was less overt, and some hospitals came up
with excuses for not being able to treat them. The hospitals feared that,
should the general population find out that they were treating HIV/AIDS
patients, patients would choose to go elsewhere. It was common practice
for general hospitals to refer patients to specialty hospitals working
with infectious diseases
International involvement in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, as
well as central government pressure on local governments to respond
appropriately, brought improvements in many localities. Some hospitals
that previously refused to treat HIV/AIDS patients had active care and
treatment programs because domestic and international training programs
improved the understanding of local health-care workers and their
managers. In Beijing dozens of local community centers encouraged and
facilitated HIV/AIDS support groups.
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In March 2012 Zhejiang Province eliminated its mandatory HIV testing for
suspects arrested for drug charges, a move seen as a step in protecting
the privacy of the individuals.
On July 1, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region implemented new legislation
requiring real name registration for HIV testing and obliging individuals
who tested positive inform their spouses.
Despite a 2010 nationwide rule banning mandatory hepatitis B virus tests
in job and school admissions applications, 61 percent of state-run
companies in 2011 continued to use hepatitis B testing as a part of their
preemployment screen.
A 2011 report from a Beijing-based NGO stated that 32 percent of
kindergartens surveyed would refuse to enroll children infected with
hepatitis B.
In July 2012 a widely used public health website for persons infected
with hepatitis was blocked within the country. The website had been
blocked two times earlier, in 2007 and 2008. The website’s main goal is
to eliminate discrimination of hepatitis carriers and provide a social
forum to build awareness of the disease.
In October the Ministry of Commerce posted online for public consultation
draft regulations that would ban individuals with AIDS from entering
public bathhouses. The draft regulations stipulated a fine of RMB 30,000
($4,910) for violators and mandated that all spas, hot springs, and
bathhouses post anti-HIV/AIDS visitor signs on their premises. At year’s
end the draft regulations remained under review.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law does not provide for freedom of association, and workers are not
free to organize or join unions of their own choosing. Independent unions
are illegal, workers are not free to organize, and the right to strike is
not protected in law.
The Trade Union Law gives the All-China Federation of Trade Unions
(ACFTU) control over all union organizations and activities, including
enterprise-level unions. The ACFTU is a CCP organ chaired by a member of
the Politburo and is tasked to “uphold the leadership of the Communist
Party.” The ACFTU and its provincial and local branches continued
aggressively to organize new constituent unions and add new members,
especially in large, multinational enterprises.
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According to the ACFTU the total trade union membership reached 280
million during the year, 109 million of whom were rural-urban migrant
workers.
The law provides specific legal protections against antiunion
discrimination and specifies that union representatives may not be
transferred or terminated by enterprise management during their term of
office. While there were no publicly available official statistics on the
enforcement of these laws, there were periodic domestic media reports of
courts awarding monetary compensation for wrongful terminations of union
representatives.
The Trade Union Law specifically assigns the ACFTU and affiliated unions
the responsibility to “coordinate the labor relations and safeguard the
labor rights and interests of the enterprise employees through equal
negotiation and collective contract system” and to represent employees in
negotiating and signing collective contracts with enterprises or public
institutions. The law states that trade union representatives at each
level should be elected.
The Labor Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Law provides for labor
dispute resolution through a three-stage process: mediation between the
parties, arbitration by officially designated arbitrators, and
litigation. A key article of this law requires employers to consult with
labor unions or employee representatives on matters that have a direct
bearing on the immediate interests of their workers.
The Labor Contract Law provides that labor unions “shall assist and
direct the employees” in establishing “a collective negotiation
mechanism” and that collective contracts can include “matters of
remuneration, working hours, breaks, vacations, work safety and hygiene,
insurance, benefits, etc.” It further provides that there may be
industrial or regional collective contracts “in industries such as
construction, mining, catering services, etc. in the regions at or below
the county level.”
The labor law allows for collective bargaining for workers in all types
of enterprises, and collective contract regulations provide protections
against discrimination and unfair dismissal for employee representatives
during collective consultations. Regulations require a union to gather
input from workers prior to consultation with management and to submit
collective contracts to workers or their congress for approval. There is
no legal obligation for employers to negotiate, and some employers
refused to do so.
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If collective bargaining negotiations do begin, there is no requirement
for employers to bargain in good faith. If no agreement is reached, the
employer does not have a right to lock out the workers, and the workers
do not have a right to strike. While work stoppages are not expressly
prohibited in law and it is not illegal for workers to strike
spontaneously, Article 53 of the constitution has been interpreted as a
ban on labor strikes by obligating all citizens to “observe labor
discipline and public order.”
Although the ACFTU, especially at provincial levels, often played an
important role in advocacy for improved labor protections during 2012,
this activism stalled during the year, in part due to a lack of clear
direction from the Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang administration. During the
ACFTU’s 16th National Congress in October, high-level officials called on
participants to improve the lives of workers through proactive employment
policies, a better social safety net, and attention to safety in the
workplace. They noted the need for both increased government enforcement
and supervision and responsibility by trade unions and the public.
In November the CCP concluded a high-level meeting by issuing a
resolution that outlined reforms with the potential to affect freedom of
association and collective bargaining, including expanding the use of
employees’ representative committees and innovating channels for workers
to make appeals. The role of the ACFTU in a strike is primarily limited
to involvement in investigations and assistance to the Ministry of Human
Resources and Social Security in resolving disputes.
ACFTU constituent unions were generally ineffective in representing and
protecting the rights and interests of workers. This was particularly
true in the case of migrant workers, who generally have less interaction
with the ACFTU, who tend to work in foreign-invested enterprises, and for
whom, especially among second-generation migrant workers, expectations of
working conditions have increased. The ACFTU and the CCP maintain a
variety of mechanisms to influence the selection of trade union
representatives. Although the law states that trade union officers at
each level should be elected, most factory-level officers were appointed
by ACFTU-affiliated unions, often in coordination with employers, and
were drawn largely from the ranks of management. Direct election by
workers of union leaders continued to be rare, occurred only at the
enterprise level, and was subject to supervision by higher levels of the
union or the CCP. In enterprises where direct election of union officers
took place, regional ACFTU officers and local CCP authorities retained
control over the selection and approval of candidates. Even in these
cases, workers and NGOs expressed concern about the
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sustainability of elections and the knowledge and capacity of elected
union officials who often lacked collective bargaining skills.
In March 2012 the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and Apple drafted an
action plan for remediation at Foxconn supplier facilities. A key
component of this action plan was the establishment of union elections.
In its final report the FLA verified that no workplace elections had been
conducted in the three facilities (Guanlan, Longhua, and Chengdu) since
the beginning of the year.
In a joint open letter to the Shenzhen Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU)
in October, a group of students from nine universities in China outlined
their findings in five Shenzhen factories at which the SFTU had
purportedly adopted direct elections. While the elections did occur in
many cases, the students found that trade union committees were still
composed of members of company management. They also found that the union
continued to fail to protect workers from basic labor law violations.
Many autonomous regions and municipalities enacted local rules allowing
collective wage negotiation, and some limited form of collective
bargaining was more or less compulsory in 25 of 31 provinces, according
to the ACFTU. The Guangdong provincial government guidelines on
enterprise collective wage bargaining require employers to give employee
representatives information regarding a company’s operations, including
employee pay and benefits, to be used in wage bargaining. The guidelines
also allow the local labor bureau, if requested by the employees and
employers, to act as a mediator to help determine wage increases.
Despite the Labor Contract Law’s provisions for collective consultation
related to common areas of dispute such as wages, hours, days off, and
benefits, noncompliance with this provision, even at the minimum levels
required by law, was common. Instead, tactics used by management included
forcing employees to sign blank contracts and failing to provide workers
a copy of their contract. Lack of government resources also undermined
effective implementation and enforcement of the Labor Contract Law.
The number of labor disputes nationwide continued to rise as workers’
awareness of the laws increased. According to figures from the Ministry
of Human Resources and Social Security, as of September 2012, there were
more than 3,000 labor arbitration units and 25,000 labor arbitrators.
Through 2011 the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security handled
1.3 million “labor and personnel
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disputes.” Of these, 589,000 were registered arbitration cases, of which
93.9 percent were resolved. Most formal dispute resolution continued to
occur between individual workers and employers, rather than managing
collective disputes. The relevant regulations and rules address
predominantly rights-based, rather than interest-based, disputes.
Strikes primarily continued to be resolved directly between workers and
management without the involvement of the ACFTU or its constituent local
trade unions. In order to avoid strikes or address minor labor relations
disputes, factory management continued to prefer to engage directly with
workers via labor-management committees, rather than through the legally
approved ACFTU-affiliated trade union. The Ministry of Human Resources
and Social Security voiced support for the expansion and establishment of
labor-management committees throughout all enterprises. Labor NGOs often
provided information, training, and legal support to workers on
collective bargaining and dispute resolution, in lieu of effective
support by the ACFTU.
There continued to be reports of workers throughout the country engaging
in strikes, work stoppages, and other protest actions. Although the
government restricted the release of figures for the number of strikes
and protests each year, the frequency of “spontaneous” strikes remained
high, especially in Shenzhen and other areas with developed labor markets
and large pools of sophisticated, rights-conscious workers. Local
government responses to strikes varied, with some jurisdictions showing
tolerance for strikes while others continued to treat worker protests as
illegal demonstrations.
In January, Hong Kong media reported that thousands of workers from the
Panzhihua Iron and Steel Group in Chengdu took to the streets to demand
wage increases. Authorities deployed 1,000 police to suppress the march
and to disperse the crowd after a confrontation with the protesters.
Chinese-language media reported that on November 7, police dispersed 200
striking workers at a Dongguan toy factory, and that authorities beat and
arrested numerous workers.
Workers engaged in collective action for a number of reasons. In many
cases striking workers called attention to wage arrears, insufficient
pay, and poor working conditions. New areas of disputes included factory
closure or relocation, severance pay and other compensation, and benefits
such as pensions. Although a large number of the major strikes reported
in the media occurred in the Pearl River Delta, labor unrest was
widespread throughout the country. Small-scale worker
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protests and strikes regularly occurred in Shanghai and Zhejiang,
Jiangsu, and Anhui provinces.
Workers increasingly went on strike to demand payment of past wages, as
an economic downturn led to diminishing profits, more factory closures,
and abandoned construction projects. On March 6, nearly 1,000 workers at
an electronics factory in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, protested and
blocked roads over compensation problems.
Strikes also occurred in an increasingly broad range of sectors. While
many strikes occurred in manufacturing, reports increased of strikes in
the transport, sanitation, and service industries similarly stemming from
failure to gain adequate compensation. In August a hospital in Guangzhou
attempted to impose a management-dictated settlement for unpaid overtime
on a group of hospital security guards. Despite threats of dismissal, the
guards went on strike. Management refused to negotiate with the guards,
and local authorities detained them for staging an illegal demonstration.
In August an estimated 3,000 workers at a toy factory in Shenzhen
conducted a solidarity strike in support of 551 long-term migrant workers
also at the factory. Despite having employed the workers for well over
the 15 years required for pension eligibility, the company had failed to
make mandatory contributions to their pension funds prior to 2008. Facing
retirement, these workers were not able to claim the pensions to which
they were entitled.
In May informally elected workers’ representatives at Shenzhen Diweixin
furniture factory led a protest against their employers over the
company’s refusal to discuss compensation for a planned relocation. On
May 23, authorities detained worker leader Wu Guijun after protracted
strikes and petitions to the city government to intervene in fruitless
negotiations. According to independent labor organizations, Wu was
formally charged with “assembling a crowd to disturb social order” on
September 28, but later reports indicated that the procuratorate refused
to accept the charges due to lack of evidence and sent the case back to
the public security officials for further investigation. Wu remained in
detention as of year’s end.
Other labor activists detained in previous years reportedly remained in
detention at year’s end, including Chen Yong, Kong Youping, Liu Jian, Liu
Jianjun, Memet Turghun Abdulla, Wang Miaogen, Xing Shiku, Zhou Decai, Zhu
Chengzhi, and Zhu Fangming.
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b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced and compulsory labor, but there were reports
that forced labor of adults and children occurred (see section 7.c.).
There were reports that employers withheld wages or required unskilled
workers to deposit several months’ wages as security against the workers
departing early from their labor contracts. These practices often
prevented workers from exercising their right to leave their employment
and made them vulnerable to forced labor. Implementation of amended labor
laws, along with workers’ increased knowledge of their rights under these
new laws, continued to reduce these practices.
International NGOs alleged that provincial and local governments were
complicit in some cases of forced labor of university students as
“interns” at facilities managed by the Taiwanese electronics giant
Foxconn. Local governments, in order to encourage Foxconn to establish
operations in their cities, promised to help recruit workers for
Foxconn’s labor-intensive operations. In September the media reported
that students in Shandong and Jiangsu provinces complained that their
universities made it mandatory that they serve 45-day internships on
assembly lines in Foxconn factories to meet Foxconn’s production demands.
A December 12 FLA report of Foxconn facilities in Guanlan, Longhua, and
Chengdu indicated that no student interns had been employed at those
sites during the year.
Forced labor in penal institutions remained a serious problem, according
to the International Trade Union Confederation. Many prisoners and
detainees were required to work, often with no remuneration. Compulsory
labor of detainees in RTL facilities, who had not been tried and
convicted in a competent court, also constituted forced labor.
In both cases detainees reportedly experienced harsh and exploitative
conditions of work, including long periods without a rest day and often
working more than 10, and sometimes 12 or 14, hours per day to meet
informal “quotas” imposed by facility management. Detainees who did not
meet their quota were threatened with physical violence and other forms
of punishment.
In addition there were credible allegations that prisoners were forced to
work for private production facilities associated with prisons. These
facilities often operated under two different names, a prison name and a
commercial enterprise name. No effective mechanism prevented the export
of goods made under such conditions.
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Goods and materials likely to be produced by forced labor included toys,
garments and textiles, electronics, bricks, and coal.
The Ministry of Justice discussed allegations of exported prison-labor
goods with foreign government officials, but information about prisons,
including associated labor camps and factories, was tightly controlled.
Although the ministry has official control over the RTL system, police
and other local authorities had a great degree of influence on a
case-by-case basis.
In November 2012 a Chongqing court rejected the wrongful imprisonment
suit brought by Ren Jianyu, who had been released from an RTL center one
year into his two-year sentence for “incitement to subvert state power”
for posting online statements critical of the political system. In July,
Ren submitted an application to the Chongqing RTL committee requesting
compensation totaling RMB 167,762 ($27,440) to cover the wages he lost
while in the camp and the psychological harm he suffered.
After the Standing Committee of the NPC voted to abolish the RTL system
in December (see section 1.d.), media and NGO reports indicated that many
of the RTL facilities were converted to drug rehabilitation centers or
prisons. It is not clear whether forced labor continued in these
facilities.
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at
www.state.gov/j/tip/.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16. It
refers to workers between the ages of 16 and 18 as “juvenile workers” and
prohibits them from engaging in certain forms of dangerous work,
including in mines.
The law specifies administrative review, fines, and revocation of
business licenses of those businesses that illegally hired minors and
provides that underage children found working should be returned to their
parents or other custodians in their original place of residence. The
penalty for employing children under 16 in hazardous labor or for
excessively long hours ranges from three to seven years’ imprisonment,
but a significant gap remained between legislation and implementation.
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Child labor remained a problem. Print media and online reports most
frequently documented the use of child labor in the electronics
manufacturing industry, although many reports indicated it occurred in a
number of sectors.
The government does not publish statistics on the extent of child labor,
but rising wages and a tightening labor market led some companies to seek
to hire underage workers in violation of the law. Some local authorities
also ignored the practice of child labor or even facilitated it to
prevent employers from moving to other areas.
Reports of child labor persisted in areas suffering from labor shortages
and in smaller enterprises that compensated workers on a piece-rate
basis. For example, in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, a manufacturing hub
hit hard by labor shortages and rising wages, local employers admitted
that the use of child labor on a temporary basis was common. Although
Dongguan Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security statistics showed
an increase in child labor cases, the bureau did not have sufficient
resources to increase enforcement operations among the thousands of small
enterprises operating in the area.
In May a 14-year-old boy working at an electronics factory in Dongguan
died suddenly in the factory dormitory. The boy used a false identity
card to gain employment, and local officials cited the company for
violating child labor laws.
In an open letter to the Guangdong Province Communist Party secretary
posted on the internet, the mother of a 15-year-old boy from Henan,
burned badly in 2012 while working in a Zhuhai electronics factory,
appealed for help in obtaining compensation for the injury. The employer
had refused to pay both the compensation sought by the family and the
award subsequently determined by the labor arbitration board. Provincial
authorities fined the employer and urged the local labor bureau to
expedite the case, but compensation for the injury was still pending at
year’s end.
On December 27, the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily reported
that approximately 70 underage workers were discovered working at an
electronics company in Shenzhen’s Baoan District. The alleged underage
workers were all from the Yi ethnic minority group, and all were from a
remote mountainous region of Liangshan, Sichuan Province, the origin of
several recent child-labor trafficking cases. This followed incidents in
2011 and 2008 involving underage workers from the same region. Although
in each instance local labor authorities intervened after the Southern
Metropolis Daily notified them of the underage workers, the three similar
cases reflect a systemic inability to deter trafficking of underage
workers or
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to identify child labor through regular labor inspections. In the most
recent case the Shenzhen company posted a notice on its website blaming
the company’s labor dispatch service provider for providing worker
identity cards purporting to show all of them to be older than age 16.
Abuse of the student-worker system continued as well. One international
labor NGO reported that most students working in domestic companies in
the supply chains of multinational electronics manufacturers, where there
was greater scrutiny, did not have the formal written contracts required
by law. After an internal audit, one multinational electronics company
admitted it had violated the labor law after interns between the ages of
14 and 16 were discovered working at its subsidiary in Yantai, Shandong
Province.
As in past years, there continued to be allegations that schools and
local officials improperly facilitated the supply of student laborers.
Some reports indicated that schools supplied factories with illegal child
labor under the pretext of vocational training, in some cases making this
labor compulsory for the student.
d. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There was no national minimum wage, but the law requires local and
provincial governments to set their own minimum wage according to
standards promulgated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social
Security. Average wage levels continued to increase. Monthly minimum
wages varied greatly with Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, reaching RMB
1,600 ($262) from March 1 and towns in remote Ningxia Province the lowest
at RMB 750 ($123). During the year the country increased its “rural
poverty level” to RMB 192 ($31.40) per month.
The law mandates a 40-hour standard workweek, excluding overtime, and a
24-hour weekly rest period. It also prohibits overtime work in excess of
three hours per day or 36 hours per month and mandates premium pay for
overtime work.
A regulation states that labor and social security bureaus at or above
the county level are responsible for enforcement of labor law. The law
also provides that where the ACFTU finds an employer in violation of the
regulation, it shall have the power to demand that the relevant local
labor bureaus deal with the case.
Many vulnerable workers, including those older workers laid off as a
result of restructuring of state-owned enterprise, as well as many
rural-urban migrants, were employed in the informal economy. In 2012
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’
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researchers estimated that the prevalence of informal employment ranged
from 20 to 37 percent overall, based on the definition used, with between
45 and 65 percent of migrants employed in the informal sector. UN experts
reported that women were particularly active in the informal economy,
often as domestic workers or petty entrepreneurs. Micro- and small
businesses with fewer than seven employees also meet the international
criteria for informality. Workers in the informal sector often lacked
coverage under labor contracts, and even with contracts migrant workers
in particular had less access to benefits, especially social insurance.
Workers in the informal sector worked longer hours and earned one-half to
two-thirds as much as comparable workers in the formal sector.
The State Administration for Work Safety (SAWS) sets and enforces
occupational health and safety regulations. The Law on Prevention and
Control of Occupational Diseases requires employers to provide free
health checkups for employees working in hazardous conditions and to
inform them of the results. Companies that violate the regulation have
their operations suspended or are deprived of business certificates and
licenses.
Effective May 2012 the SAWS and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued
the Measures on Incentives for Safe Production Reporting, which authorize
cash rewards to whistleblowers reporting companies for violations, such
as concealing workplace accidents, operating without proper licensing,
operating unsafe equipment, or failing to provide workers with adequate
safety training. The measures warn against false accusations but also
stipulate protection under the law for legitimate whistleblowers who
report violations.
While many labor laws and regulations on worker safety were fully
compatible with international standards, implementation and enforcement
were generally poor due to a lack of adequate resources. Compliance with
the law was weak, and standards were regularly violated. While excessive
overtime occurred, in many cases workers encouraged noncompliance by
requesting greater amounts of overtime to counterbalance low base wages
and increase their overall wages. Inadequately enforced labor laws,
occupational health and safety laws, and regulations continued to put
workers’ livelihoods, health, and safety at risk.
Almost all local and provincial governments raised minimum wage levels
significantly during the year as a result of changing economic and
demographic conditions. As the average tenure of workers in the Pearl
River Delta increased, their skills improved, adding more upward pressure
on wages. Spot shortages of
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skilled labor, increased inland investment, and successful strikes led to
generally increased wage levels for workers in all parts of the country.
Nonpayment of wages remained a problem in many areas. Governments at
various levels continued efforts to prevent arrears and to recover
payment of unpaid wages and insurance contributions. It remained possible
for companies to relocate or close on short notice, often leaving
employees without adequate recourse for due compensation. In some extreme
cases, workers who feared that they would be deprived of adequate
compensation or severance engaged in actions such as taking managers
hostage.
Although creative strategies by some multinational purchasers provided
new approaches to reducing the incidence of labor violations in supplier
factories, insufficient government oversight of both foreign affiliated
and purely domestic supplier factories continued to contribute to poor
working conditions. Questions related to acceptable working conditions,
especially overtime, continued to plague electronics manufacturers such
as Foxconn.
On December 12, the FLA released the third and final verification report
on conditions at Foxconn facilities in China, tracking progress on that
action plan through July 1. The report documented that nearly 100 percent
of all actions recommended by the FLA had been completed at three key
facilities in Guanlan, Longhua, and Chengdu, resulting in clear changes
in company policy. Nonetheless, FLA assessors documented numerous
violations of domestic law. While some workers received an average of one
day off per week, others went for a month or more without these breaks.
In some cases workers worked more than 60 hours per week, and for a
six-month period, more than one-half of the workers in the Longhua and
Guanlan facilities exceeded the legal overtime limit of 36 hours per
month. In Chengdu from July to October more than 75 percent of workers
exceeded this limit.
Although SAWS reported that the rate of industrial accidents continued to
decline, there were several high-profile instances of industrial
accidents. On June 3, a total of 121 workers died in a fire that swept
through a poultry-processing plant in the northeastern province of Jilin.
In that incident most of the exits at the plant had been locked from
outside, and none of the 395 employees working at the time had received
fire safety training. SAWS responded by dispatching teams to assess
safety standards at factories. Although inspections routinely identified
existing problems that increased the risk of industrial accidents,
ensuring that companies acted on the findings of the inspections remained
a challenge.
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Authorities continued to press mines to improve safety measures and
mandated greater investments in safety. In August 2012 SAWS announced its
goal of closing hundreds of small coalmines during the year in an attempt
to reduce the number of deadly accidents.
Despite consistent reductions in mining deaths, there continued to be
many coalmine accidents throughout the country.
In Jilin Province, gas explosions at coalmines on March 29 and April 1
killed 53 workers. An third explosion on April 21, also in Jilin, killed
18 workers – despite an order for all coal mines in the province to
suspend operations and undergo safety inspections following the earlier
two explosions.
ACFTU occupational disease experts estimated that 200 million workers
worked in hazardous environments. According to the Chinese Center for
Disease Control and Prevention, only an estimated 10 percent of eligible
employees received regular occupational health services. Small- and
medium-sized enterprises, the largest employers, often failed to provide
the required health services. They also did not provide proper safety
equipment that could help prevent disease, and were rarely required to
pay compensation to victims and their families. Instances of
pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, remained high. A charitable NGO
that helped to treat migrant workers estimated the disease affected
approximately six million rural residents.
TIBET 2013 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and
Tibetan autonomous prefectures (TAPs) and counties in other provinces to
be a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Chinese Communist
Party’s (CCP) Central Committee oversees Tibet policies in the PRC. Chen
Quanguo, an ethnic Han from Henan Province, became the TAR party
secretary in 2011. Ethnic Han were party secretaries in eight of the 10
TAPs, which are located in Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces.
Two TAPs in Qinghai Province had ethnic Tibetan party secretaries. As in
other predominantly minority areas of the PRC, ethnic Han CCP members
held almost all top party, government, police, and military positions in
the TAR and other Tibetan areas. Ultimate authority rests with the
25-member Central Committee Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CCP
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and its seven-member Standing Committee in Beijing. Civilian authorities
generally maintained effective control of the security forces. Security
forces committed human rights abuses.
During the year the government’s respect for and protection of human
rights in the TAR and other Tibetan areas remained poor. Under the banner
of maintaining social stability and combating separatism, the government
engaged in the severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural,
and linguistic heritage by, among other means, strictly curtailing the
civil rights of China’s ethnic Tibetan population, including the freedoms
of speech, religion, association, assembly, and movement. The government
routinely vilified the Dalai Lama and blamed the “Dalai clique” and
“other outside forces” for instigating instability and the at least 26
self-immolations by Tibetan laypersons, monks, and nuns that reportedly
occurred during the year.
Other serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings,
torture, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial detentions, and house arrests.
There was a perception among Tibetans that authorities systemically
targeted them for political repression, economic marginalization, and
cultural assimilation, as well as educational and employment
discrimination. The presence of the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and other
security forces remained at high levels in many communities across the
Tibetan Plateau. Repression was severe throughout the year but increased
in the periods before and during politically and religiously sensitive
anniversaries and events. Students, monks, laypersons, and others in many
Tibetan areas were detained after reportedly demanding freedom and human
rights, and expressing their support for the Dalai Lama.
The government strictly controlled information about, and access to, the
TAR and Tibetan areas outside the TAR, making it difficult to determine
accurately the scope of human rights abuses. The Chinese government
severely restricted travel by foreign journalists to Tibetan areas.
Additionally, the Chinese government subjected Tibetans who spoke to
foreign reporters, attempted to provide information to persons outside
the country, or communicated information regarding protests or other
expressions of discontent through cell phones, e-mail, or the internet to
harassment or detention. The Chinese government also denied multiple
requests by U.S. and other foreign diplomats for permission to visit the
TAR, and repeatedly prevented foreign diplomatic personnel from visiting
Tibetan areas outside the TAR for which permission was not officially
required. Because of these restrictions, many of the incidents and cases
mentioned in this report could not be independently verified.
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Disciplinary procedures were opaque, and it was not clear that security
or other authorities were punished for behavior defined under Chinese
laws and regulations as abuses of power and authority. Impunity appeared
to be a problem.
Tibetan Self-Immolations
At least 26 Tibetans reportedly self-immolated during the year, including
laypersons and Tibetan Buddhist clergy, which was significantly fewer
than the 83 self-immolations reported in 2012. The majority of
self-immolators were laypersons, as opposed to current or former Buddhist
monks or nuns. The vast majority of these incidents resulted in death.
Prior to March 2012 all of the reported self-immolators were current or
former monks or nuns. However, as highlighted in the U.S.
Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) August 2012 report
Tibetan Self-Immolation – Rising Frequency, Wider Spread, Greater
Diversity, self-immolation by laypersons grew markedly during the latter
half of 2012. By the end of 2012 laypersons represented more than half of
the self-immolations committed that year. That trend continued with only
10 of the 26 self-immolators being monks or nuns.
Self-immolators reportedly continued to see their act as a protest
against political and religious oppression. For example, according to
media reports, Lobsang Namgyal, formerly a monk at the Kirti Monastery
and the 100th Tibetan to self-immolate in China since March 2009, called
for the long life of the Dalai Lama while in the act of self-immolating.
The Chinese government implemented policies that punish friends,
relatives, and associates of self-immolators. In March 2012 the head of
the Aba (Ngaba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture (T&QAP)
government, Wu Zegang, asserted that Tibetans who committed
self-immolation were being “used by separatists to create chaos.”
Alleging that the self-immolators had been in communication with the
Tibetan exile community, Wu stated, “the Dalai Lama clique and overseas
splittist forces are viciously leading Tibetan Buddhism onto the track of
extremism. By touting self-immolators as so-called heroes and performing
religious rituals to make amends for the sins of the dead, they support
and inspire self-immolations. They instigate people to emulate and will
not hesitate to use the terroristic behavior of sacrificing people’s
lives to reach their separatist objective.”
According to various overseas rights groups, in November 2012 the
government of Huangnan (Malho) TAP, Qinghai Province, issued a notice to
local party members and government officials ordering them to discipline
bereaved family members of
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self-immolators by withholding public benefits, including disaster
relief. The notice also called for the punishment of laypersons, monastic
personnel, family members, and officials who organized or participated in
burial or mourning activities. Authorities subjected villages where
self-immolations took place to the cancellation of publicly funded
development and disaster relief projects, and subjected monasteries found
to have participated in or organized fundraising activities or prayer
ceremonies for self-immolators or their families to cancellation of
public funding or even closure.
A December 2012 editorial in the Gansu Daily, an online news site, noted
that the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and
the Ministry of Public Security had jointly issued the “Opinion on
Handling Cases of Self-Immolation in Tibetan Areas According to Law,”
which criminalizes various activities associated with self-immolation,
including “organizing, plotting, inciting, compelling, luring,
instigating, or helping others to commit self-immolation,” each of which
may be prosecuted as “intentional homicide.” According to the opinion,
the motive of self-immolators was “generally to split the country,” and
the act constituted criminal behavior, since it posed a threat to public
safety and public order. The opinion stated that “ringleaders” would be
targeted for “major punishment.”
Not long after the announcement of the “Opinion on Handling Cases of
Self-Immolation in Tibetan Areas According to Law,” government officials
began detaining, arresting, trying, and sentencing a number of friends,
relatives, and associates of self-immolators across the Tibetan Plateau,
a trend that continued throughout the year. In February official media
reported nearly 90 formal arrests of individuals in Qinghai and Gansu
provinces linked to self-immolators. In January the Intermediate People’s
Court of Aba (Ngaba) T&QAP, Sichuan Province, sentenced Kirti Monastery
monk Lobsang Konchok to death with a two-year reprieve after convicting
him of “intentional homicide” for “inciting and coercing eight people to
self-immolate, resulting in three deaths.” Authorities sentenced his
nephew, Lobsang Tsering, to 10 years in prison on the same charges. In
August the same court sentenced Dolma Kyab (also known as Droma Gyap) to
death. Authorities accused Dolma Kyab of strangling his wife to death and
then lighting her body on fire, but Phayul (a news website maintained by
Tibetan exiles) and other sources claimed that his wife died after
setting herself on fire in protest against Chinese rule.
Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
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There were reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary
or unlawful killings. There were no reports that officials investigated
or punished those responsible for such killings.
Phayul reported that Kaldo, a former Chamdo Monastery monk, died on April
28 in Zuogong (Dzogang) County, Changdu (Chamdo) Prefecture, TAR, after
being beaten by police, who had detained him a week earlier for
possessing recordings of speeches by the Dalai Lama.
Citing a former political prisoner, Phayul reported in August that police
in Hongyuan (Khyungchu) County, Aba (Ngaba) T&QAP, Sichuan Province,
arrested Guldrak for alleged involvement in a theft, beat him to death,
and then claimed he had committed suicide. Up to 500 Tibetans, including
members of Guldrak’s family, assembled outside the police station to
contest the official explanation for his death, and authorities
reportedly admitted that he died in police custody due to beatings.
Authorities agreed to pay the family renminbi (RMB) 50,000 ($8,180) to
cover burial fees.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that in October security forces killed
four and injured 50 others in the TAR’s Biru (Driru) County, Naqu
(Nagchu) Prefecture, when they fired into a crowd demanding the release
of a person who had been detained for leading protests against government
orders to fly Chinese flags from homes in the area.
Disappearance
Authorities in Tibetan areas continued to detain Tibetans arbitrarily for
indefinite periods of time.
The whereabouts of the Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, Tibetan
Buddhism’s second-most prominent figure after the Dalai Lama, remained
unknown. The Chinese government has not made any public statements about
his situation since 2010.
The whereabouts of Tashi Chowang and Aphu Sonam, students from the
Dhungkar Language School in Lhasa who were arrested after Tashi Chowang’s
uncle self-immolated in October 2012, remained unknown.
Torture and Other Cruel and Degrading Treatment
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According to the PRC’s constitution, “the State respects and protects
human rights.” Judges cannot apply the constitution in court cases,
however, in part because interpretation is reserved to the Standing
Committee of the National People’s Congress.
Police and prison authorities employed torture and degrading treatment in
dealing with some detainees and prisoners.
There were reports during the year that Chinese officials tortured some
Tibetans while incarcerated or otherwise in custody, including by
electric shocks, exposure to extreme temperatures, severe beatings, and
being forced to perform heavy physical labor. Security forces routinely
subjected detainees and prisoners to “political re-education” sessions.
According to an April 2 New York Times report, authorities released Jigme
Gyatso, a former monk accused of leading a counterrevolutionary
organization, after he spent 17 years in prison. He was reportedly
extremely frail after years of torture and poor medical care.
According to a May 27 Phayul report, authorities released Lobsang Tenzin
on medical parole after he had spent 25 years in prison for participating
in anti-China protests in Lhasa in 1988. He remained under house arrest,
reportedly undergoing medical treatment for injuries suffered as a result
of torture during his imprisonment.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
The number of prisoners was unknown. There were reports of recently
released prisoners who were permanently disabled or in extremely poor
health because of the harsh treatment they endured in prison. According
to numerous sources, political prisoners endured unsanitary conditions
and often had little opportunity to wash or bathe. Many prisoners slept
on the floor without blankets or sheets. Former prisoners reported being
isolated in small cells for as long as three months and deprived of
sunlight, adequate food, water, and blankets. Additionally, prison
authorities banned religious observances and forced prisoners,
particularly political prisoners, to attend political re-education
sessions.
According to sources prisoners rarely received medical care except in the
case of serious illness. Former prisoners also complained that they often
failed to receive
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money, food, clothing, and books from their families because prison
guards confiscated such items.
There were cases of persons detained and imprisoned who were denied
visitors, including family members and legal counsel. Authorities
apparently applied this policy to many detainees and prisoners, but more
routinely and stringently to political detainees and prisoners.
Authorities required those allowed to see their family members to speak
Mandarin Chinese (as opposed to their native Tibetan) during the visit.
As elsewhere in the PRC, authorities did not permit independent
monitoring of prisons.
Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
Arbitrary arrest and detention was a problem in Tibetan areas. With a
detention warrant, police may legally detain persons for up to 37 days
without formally arresting or charging them. Police must notify the
relatives or employer of a detained person within 24 hours of the
detention. Following the 37-day period, police must either formally
arrest or release the detainee. Police frequently violated these
requirements. It was unclear how many Tibetan detainees were held under
the Re-education Through Labor (RTL) system or under other forms of
detention not subject to judicial review.
According to a January 30 RFA report, authorities summoned 14 senior
monks from leading Lhasa monasteries and detained them at Penkar
Monastery in Naqu (Nagchu) Prefecture, TAR, for “political re-education.”
According a July 2 RFA report, authorities in Basu (Pashoe) County,
Changdu (Chamdo) Prefecture, TAR, detained monk Lobsang Gendun after he
shouted slogans calling for Tibetan independence during official
celebrations of Communist Party rule.
Denial of Fair Public Trial
Legal safeguards for detained or imprisoned Tibetans were inadequate in
both design and implementation. According to a July Xinhua report, there
were 81 above-county-level legal aid agencies under the TAR Department of
Justice, and prisoners had the right to request a meeting with a
government-appointed attorney,
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but in practical terms many defendants, particularly political
defendants, did not have access to legal representation.
During the year the heads of the TAR Legal Affairs Committee, Justice
Department, Procuratorate, and Public Security Department were all ethnic
Han. The deputy head of the TAR Justice Department, who concurrently
served as general director of the TAR Lawyers’ Association, was also
ethnic Han.
According to RFA on March 11, police in Gande (Gade) County, Guoluo
(Golog) TAP, Qinghai Province, detained Tritsun, a monk from Tongkyab
Monastery, after he published a book about Tibetan self-immolations.
Police reportedly notified Tritsun’s mother that the courts convicted and
sentenced him to prison only after the fact and failed to disclose the
length of his sentence or his whereabouts. Police also told his mother
that she could not visit her son.
Trial Procedures
In cases that authorities claimed involved “endangering state security”
or “separatism,” trials often were cursory and closed. Authorities
sentenced Tibetans for alleged support of Tibetan independence regardless
of whether they were alleged to have committed violent acts.
According to a 2011 Tibet Daily article, as of 2009 there were 17 law
firms and 101 attorneys in the TAR. Of the 17 law firms, 11 had their own
CCP committee, and six shared a CCP committee with the Justice Bureau in
their prefecture. As is required throughout the PRC, authorities assigned
a CCP development leader to law firms that had no party organization. On
April 20, Wu Yingjie, the executive deputy party secretary of the TAR,
called on lawyers in the region to strengthen their ideological support
for the notion that “stability overrides all else.”
In an August 25 public announcement, the TAR government stated that law
enforcement authorities in the TAR were hiring 355 rural legal workers.
Among the qualifications required of applicants were “firmly following
the Party line and fighting against separatism with a resolute political
stance.”
Political Prisoners and Detainees
An unknown number of Tibetans were detained, arrested, and/or sentenced
as a result of their political or religious activity. Many prisoners were
held in extrajudicial RTL prisons and never appeared in public court. In
the CCP
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document “Decisions on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening
Reform,” adopted November 12 at the Third Plenum of the 18th CCP Central
Committee, the party announced its intention to abolish RTL. On December
28, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee abolished the RTL
system, effective January 1, 2014. Also in December Amnesty International
published a report stating that authorities were replacing many RTL
detention centers with other forms of extrajudicial detention.
Based on information available from the CECC political prisoner database,
as of September 1, 642 Tibetan political prisoners were detained or
imprisoned, most in Tibetan areas. Observers believed the actual number
of Tibetan political prisoners and detainees to be much higher, but the
lack of access to prisoners and prisons, as well as the dearth of
reliable official statistics, made a determination difficult. An unknown
number of persons continued to be held under the RTL system. Of the 642
Tibetan political prisoners tracked by the CECC, 622 were ethnic Tibetans
detained on or after March 10, 2008, and 20 were Tibetans detained prior
to March 10, 2008. Of the 622 Tibetan political prisoners who were
detained on or after March 10, 2008, 288 were believed or presumed to be
detained or imprisoned in Sichuan Province, 143 in the TAR, 122 in
Qinghai Province, 68 in Gansu Province, and one in the Xinjiang Uighur
Autonomous Region. There were 182 persons serving known sentences, which
ranged from 18 months to life imprisonment. The average sentence length
was six years and three months. Of the 182 persons serving known
sentences, 79 were monks, nuns, or Tibetan Buddhist teachers.
Sentencing information was available for 16 of the 20 Tibetan political
prisoners detained prior to March 10, 2008, and believed imprisoned as of
September 1. Their sentences ranged from eight years to life
imprisonment. The average fixed-term sentence was 13 years and one month.
According to a Phayul report, in February the Intermediate People’s Court
in Huangnan (Malho) Prefecture, Qinghai Province, sentenced Agu Gyatag to
a four-year prison term for advocating separatism. Chinese authorities
arrested Agu Gyatag for allegedly talking about Tibetan independence and
providing material assistance to the family members of Tibetan
self-immolators in the area.
In April the Intermediate People’s Court in Huangnan (Malho) Prefecture,
Qinghai Province, sentenced four Tibetans to varying prison terms of up
to six years for “inciting separatism.” According to an April 12 press
release from the Central
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Tibetan Administration, which is based in India, the four had
disseminated information about self-immolations.
Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of Speech: Tibetans who spoke to foreign reporters, attempted to
provide information to persons outside the country, or communicated
information regarding protests or other expressions of discontent through
cell phones, e-mail, or the internet were subject to harassment or
detention. The whereabouts of 59 individuals convicted in 2009 for
“creating and spreading rumors” after the 2008 unrest remained unknown.
During the year TAR authorities sought to strengthen control over
electronic media further and to punish individuals for the “creating and
spreading of rumors.” In November, TAR Communist Party Secretary Chen
Quanguo wrote in an official party journal that the government was
working to ensure that the “voice and image of the enemy forces and the
Dalai clique are neither seen nor heard.” Sources reported that many
Tibetans, particularly monks, scholars, students, and government
officials, avoided sensitive topics, even in private conversations in
their own homes.
The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Chinese Human Rights Defenders
reported that between October 11 and 18 Chinese authorities detained a
number of persons and held them incommunicado in a crackdown in Biru
(Driru) County, TAR. They were protesting a requirement that the Chinese
flag be flown from their homes. The protest spread from Biru’s Mowa
Village to Lhasa and areas outside the TAR.
Biru police detained writer Tsultrim Gyaltsen and his colleague, Yugyal,
a former police officer, alleging that they had “engaged in separatist
activities and disrupted social stability by spreading rumors.” Police
seized Gyaltsen after he publicly disagreed with speeches given by
high-ranking TAR officials about the continuing crackdown. Police also
detained a Tibetan layman (Dawa Lhundup), a nun, (Jampa), and two monks
who had fled Biru for Lhasa in September (Jampa Lekshay and Kelnam
Namgyal) on charges of “leaking state secrets.” Police detained a woman
named Kelsang after they found images of the Dalai Lama and songs about
Tibetan independence on her cell phone. Additionally, police detained
layman Tenzin Rangdol on October 19. His detention triggered a protest
the next day, when armed police seized more than 10 other individuals
appealing for Rangdol’s release.
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Press Freedoms: The government severely restricted travel by foreign
journalists. A few foreign journalists visited the TAR by participating
in highly structured, government-organized tours during which the
constant presence of government minders made independent reporting
difficult. For example, on September 2, journalist Rowan Callick wrote in
The Australian, “I had accepted an invitation from the State Council
Information Office--the media arm of China’s cabinet--to visit Tibet,
since there is no other way in which journalists can enter without
subterfuge.” Callick disputed reports carried in Chinese state media that
he had made positive statements about the situation in Tibet during his
visit. Outside the TAR authorities often barred foreign journalists from
entering or expelled them from Tibetan areas despite government rules,
adopted in 2008, which state that foreign journalists do not need the
permission of local authorities to conduct reporting. Officials in
Qinghai Province have told reporters that all Tibetan areas are
off-limits to foreign reporters, according to a report released by the
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.
According to the Tibet Post International, on May 14, a Chinese court in
Qinghai sentenced Gartse Jigme, a monk from Gartse Monastery, Zeku
(Tsekhog) County, Huangnan (Malho) TAP, Qinghai, to five years
imprisonment reportedly for having included “political content” in his
writings. His condition and whereabouts were unknown.
The government continued to jam radio broadcasts of Voice of America
(VOA) and RFA’s Tibetan- and Chinese-language services in some Tibetan
areas, as well as the Voice of Tibet. In Tibetan areas of southern Gansu
Province, Qinghai Province, and the Ganzi (Kardze) TAP, Sichuan Province,
police confiscated or destroyed satellite dishes suspected of receiving
VOA Tibetan-language television, as well as VOA and RFA audio satellite
channels. Some dishes were replaced with government-controlled cable
television systems. Some Tibetans reported that they could listen to
overseas Tibetan-language radio and television broadcasts through the
internet.
Domestic journalists generally did not report on repression in Tibetan
areas. Authorities promptly censored the postings of bloggers who did so,
and the authors sometimes faced punishment. Security officials regularly
placed Beijing-based Tibetan blogger and poet Woeser under de facto house
arrest throughout the year. Woeser, who has documented Tibetan protests
and self-immolations, and advocated for human rights for Tibetans,
environmental protection for the Tibetan Plateau, and the preservation of
Tibetan culture and religion, was kept under house arrest for several
months in Lhasa after authorities refused to permit her to return
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to Beijing following her annual summer visit. During the year Chinese
officials’ refusal to issue her a passport prevented her from traveling
overseas to receive the Secretary of State’s International Women of
Courage Award in person. According to an RFA report, authorities again
placed Woeser and her husband, Wang Lixiong, under house arrest in
Beijing for a few weeks in June after she spoke out on conditions in
Tibet ahead of a state-sponsored trip by foreign journalists to the TAR.
Authorities tightly controlled journalists who worked for the domestic
press and could hire and fire them on the basis of political reliability.
For example, on March 9, the TAR Daily newspaper released a job
announcement seeking a number of media employees. One of the listed job
requirements was “political ideological performance.”
Violence and Harassment: Chinese officials harassed Cyril Payen, a French
journalist who made a documentary about Tibet. After a French news
station broadcast the documentary in May, Chinese embassy personnel went
to the station’s headquarters in Paris to demand the withdrawal of the
documentary from the station’s website. An employee of the Chinese
embassy in Bangkok also left a threatening message on Payen’s telephone,
according to Reporters Without Borders.
On August 1, Tibetan writer and schoolteacher Gangkye Drubpa Kyab
reportedly was sentenced to five years and six months in jail for alleged
separatist political activities. More than 20 security officers who came
to his home in Seda (Serthar) County, Ganzi (Kardze) TAP, Sichuan
Province, took him into custody in February 2012. He is the author of a
book about unrest in Tibetan areas published in 2008.
Dhondup Wangchen, a filmmaker who was sentenced to six years in prison in
2009 on charges related to his production of a 25-minute documentary,
Leaving Fear Behind, that documented human rights problems in Tibetan
areas, remained in prison and was said to be suffering from hepatitis.
According to a January 22 Phayul report, he suffered harsh treatment and
months of solitary confinement at the TAR’s Xichuan labor camp before
authorities transferred him to the Qinghai Provincial Women’s Prison.
Internet Freedom
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Authorities curtailed cell phone and internet service in the TAR and
Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces during times of
unrest and politically sensitive periods, such as the March anniversaries
of the 2008 protests and “Serf Emancipation Day,” around the Dalai Lama’s
birthday in July, and during the 18th Party Congress conference.
Additionally, many websites were shut and internet cafes closely
monitored during major religious and cultural festivals in Tibetan areas.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, an NGO based in
Dharamsala, India, reported that authorities in Lhasa systematically
searched the cell phones of monks in March. In February, TAR Party
Secretary Chen Quanguo stated that “stability overrides everything else,
hence new media, including cell phones and the internet, must be fully
managed in order to protect the public interest and national security.”
Authorities blocked foreign-based, Tibet-related websites critical of
official policy in Tibetan areas to users in China throughout the year.
Well organized computer hacking attacks originating from China harassed
Tibet activists and organizations outside China. Authorities harassed and
detained Tibet internet activists inside China. Security agencies
responsible for monitoring the internet often lacked the language skills
necessary to monitor Tibetan content efficiently. As a result authorities
subjected Tibetan-language blogs and websites to indiscriminate
censorship and closed entire sites even when the content did not appear
to touch on sensitive topics. Many teachers and scholars in the TAR and
Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai provinces reported receiving
official warnings after using their cell phones to exchange what was
deemed to be sensitive information in Tibetan script.
On March 5, official media reported that the Internet Security
Supervision Detachment of the Lhasa Public Security Bureau (PSB) required
the owners of all Lhasa internet cafes to attend an “internet cafe
security management” meeting, where they had to sign a “responsibility
document” pledging to ensure internet security.
On April 28, Qinghai Province held a conference on “internet and
information security management,” calling on relevant authorities to
crack down on “harmful information” and “purify the internet.”
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
Authorities in Tibetan areas required professors and students at
institutions of higher education to attend political education sessions
in an effort to prevent
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“separatist” political and religious activities on campus. Authorities
frequently encouraged ethnic Tibetan academics to participate in
government propaganda efforts, such as making public speeches supporting
government policies or accepting interviews by official media. Academics
who refused to cooperate with such efforts faced diminished prospects for
promotion. Academics in the PRC who publicly criticized CCP policies on
Tibetan affairs faced official reprisal. The government controlled
curricula, texts, and other course materials, as well as the publication
of historically or politically sensitive academic books. Authorities
frequently denied many Tibetan academics permission to travel overseas
for conferences and academic or cultural exchanges.
In January, TAR authorities held a conference on “law enforcement work in
the cultural market” during which party and government officials were
urged to protect “ideological and cultural security” in the TAR with
“firm political consciousness” and “strong political responsibility.”
At a February meeting in Lhasa, senior leaders of the TAR discussed
publication priorities for the year. TAR party and government leaders
were urged to “ensure the absolute security of Tibetan ideological and
cultural fields.”
On May 18, the Tibet Daily published an article on cultural development
in the region and asked officials in charge of cultural development to
promote such themes as “communism, socialism, and the People’s Liberation
Army are good,” “love the party and the motherland,” and “materialism and
atheism.”
In July senior TAR officials urged relevant officials to crack down on
illegal publications about Tibet and “reactionary propaganda materials,”
to improve their capacity to gather and delete illegal online
information, to find the source of illegal information, and to shut down
underground printing houses.
The TAR Tourism Bureau continued its general policy of refusing to hire
ethnic Tibetan tour guides who were educated in India or Nepal.
Government officials stated that all tour guides working in the TAR must
seek employment with the Tourism Bureau and pass a licensing exam on
tourism and political ideology. The government’s stated intent was to
ensure that all tour guides provided visitors with the government’s
position opposing Tibetan independence and the activities of the Dalai
Lama. Ethnic Tibetan tour guides in the TAR faced competition from
government-sponsored “Help Tibet” tour guides brought from inland China,
apparently for their greater political reliability, and put to work after
receiving a crash course on Tibet. According to Xinhua News Agency, under
the “Help Tibet
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Tour Guide Program,” the government has sent 612 non-Tibetan tour guides
to the TAR from other parts of China since 2003.
Policies promoting planned urban economic growth, rapid infrastructure
development, the influx of non-Tibetans to traditionally Tibetan areas,
expansion of the tourism industry, forced resettlement of nomads and
farmers, and weakening of Tibetan-language education in public schools
continued to disrupt traditional living patterns and customs.
Lhasa security authorities continued to search some private homes and
businesses for photographs of the Dalai Lama and other politically
forbidden items. Police examined the cell phones of Lhasa residents to
search for “reactionary music” from India and photographs of the Dalai
Lama. Authorities reportedly even deemed certain ringtones subversive and
grounds for detention. From January to March, authorities in Hainan
(Tsolho) Prefecture, Qinghai Province, deployed 180 persons to raid 36
printing houses and 155 cultural enterprises. They confiscated 2,684
illegal DVDs and 500 pictures, and punished four internet cafes. In June
there were reports that local governments in some parts of Qinghai
Province and the TAR had decided to allow private displays of photos of
the Dalai Lama, a policy change later denied by government officials.
On March 28, the TAR marked its fifth annual observance of “Serf
Emancipation Day,” commemorating the day in 1959 that China’s rulers
formally dissolved the Kashag (the governing council of Tibet). During
the official celebration, authorities required government officials and
representatives from rural villages and monasteries to denounce the Dalai
Lama and praise the Communist Party of China.
Observers continued to express concern that development projects and
other central government policies disproportionately benefited
non-Tibetans and resulted in a considerable influx of ethnic Han and Hui
persons into the TAR. Many major infrastructure projects across the
Tibetan Plateau were engineered and implemented by large state-owned
enterprises based in other provinces, and managed and staffed by
professionals and low-wage temporary migrant workers from other
provinces, rather than by local residents. Many persons from outside the
TAR who had spent years living in the TAR maintained their official
registration in another province and thus were not counted as TAR
residents. The government continued to improve public services provided
to the migrant population in the TAR significantly, particularly in the
areas of education and
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health care, and provided financial support to new businesses established
by migrants.
Even in areas officially designated as “autonomous,” Tibetans generally
lacked the right to play a meaningful role in the protection of their
cultural heritage and unique natural environment, and faced arrest and
intimidation if they protested against mining or other industrial
activities that they believed were harmful to the environment or sacred
sites.
On August 16, Chinese security forces used tear gas to disperse Tibetans
protesting against diamond mining in Zaduo (Zatoe) County, Yushu (Yushul)
Prefecture, Qinghai Province, injuring several Tibetans.
In August 2012 approximately 1,000 Tibetans marched to a mining site in
Mangkang (Markham) County, Changdu (Chamdo) Prefecture, TAR, to protest
the large operation, which they believed to be environmentally hazardous.
Security personnel responded by firing tear gas and live rounds, causing
the death of a Tibetan named Nyima, and arrested six others, including
five whom authorities identified as Dawa, Atsong, Phuntsog Nyima, Jamyang
Wangmo, and Kelsang Yudron. Their whereabouts and conditions remained
unknown.
Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese are official languages in the TAR, and both
languages appeared on some, but not all, public and commercial signs.
Inside official buildings and businesses, including banks, post offices,
and hospitals, signage in Tibetan was frequently lacking, and in many
instances forms and documents were available only in Mandarin. Mandarin
was widely spoken, was used for most official communications, and was the
predominant language of instruction in public schools in many Tibetan
areas. China’s Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law states that “schools (classes
and grades) and other institutions of education where most of the
students come from minority nationalities shall, whenever possible, use
textbooks in their own languages and use their languages as the media of
instruction” (Article 37).
The Tibetan-language curriculum for primary and middle schools in Tibetan
areas was predominantly translated directly from the standard national
Mandarin-language curriculum, offering Tibetan students little insight
into their own culture and history. Few elementary schools in Tibetan
areas used Tibetan as the primary language of instruction, and some did
not offer any instruction in Tibetan. Despite guarantees of cultural and
linguistic rights, in middle and high schools--even some officially
designated as Tibetan-language schools--Tibetan was usually used only
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to teach classes on Tibetan language, literature, and culture. All other
classes were taught in Mandarin. Of 17 high schools in Aba (Ngaba),
T&QAP, Sichuan Province, only four taught primarily in Tibetan. In early
2011 the TAR government began an effort to strengthen free compulsory
bilingual preschool education in rural areas by establishing 217
bilingual kindergartens. Qinghai Province, and Ganzi (Kardze) TAP and Aba
(Ngaba) T&QAP, Sichuan Province, announced similar programs in 2011.
According to a January 10 RFA report, authorities in Aba (Ngaba) T&QAP
and Ganzi (Kardze) TAP, Sichuan Province, banned Tibetan-language classes
taught by volunteers to students during winter break.
According to a June 12 RFA report, a court in Qinghai Province sentenced
Wangchuk Dorje, a student at the Middle School of Nationalities in
Huangnan (Malho) TAP, Qinghai Province, to four years in prison for being
one of the main organizers of a student protest in Huangnan. Several
thousand students took to the streets in November 2012 to demand the
right to use Tibetan as their language of instruction in schools. The
students shouted slogans calling for the “equality of nationalities and
freedom of languages” and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama.
Proficiency in Mandarin was essential to qualify for higher education and
to obtain a government job in the PRC. China’s most prestigious
universities provided no instruction in Tibetan or other ethnic minority
languages. “Nationalities” universities, established to serve ethnic
minority students and ethnic Han students interested in ethnic minority
subjects, offered Tibetan-language instruction only in courses focused on
the study of the Tibetan language or culture. Since
Tibetan-language instruction was not offered for other higher-education
subjects, there was a dearth of technically trained and qualified ethnic
Tibetans, and migrants from other areas of China typically filled jobs in
Tibetan areas that required technical skills and qualifications.
According to overseas Tibetan sources cited by Phayul, authorities
arrested Kalsang Yarphel, a popular singer, in Lhasa on July 14. Chinese
authorities deemed as subversive his songs that encouraged Tibetans to
speak Tibetan and think about Tibet’s future.
Freedom of Religion
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See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at
www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/.
Freedom of Movement
Chinese law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel,
emigration, and repatriation. In practical terms, however, the government
severely restricted travel and freedom of movement of ethnic Tibetans,
particularly Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns.
In-country Movement: Freedom of movement for all Tibetans, but
particularly for monks and nuns, remained severely restricted throughout
the TAR, as well as in other Tibetan areas. The PAP and local PSBs set up
roadblocks and checkpoints on major roads, in cities, and on the
outskirts of cities and monasteries, particularly around sensitive dates.
Tibetans traveling in monastic attire were subject to extra scrutiny by
police at roadside checkpoints.
Following the May 2012 self-immolation in Lhasa of two young Tibetans
from Tibetan areas of Sichuan and Gansu provinces (the first instances of
self-immolation in Lhasa in recent years), authorities largely banned
Tibetans from outside the TAR, particularly monks and nuns, from
traveling to the TAR without first obtaining special official travel
documents. Many Tibetans reported encountering difficulties in obtaining
the required travel documents. This not only made it difficult for
Tibetans to make pilgrimages to sacred religious sites in the TAR but
also obstructed land-based travel to India through Nepal. During the year
some Tibetans reported that authorities no longer required them to obtain
special official travel documents to visit the TAR but required them to
register with local authorities upon arrival in the TAR. Some Tibetans
from outside the TAR that traveled to Lhasa also reported that in Lhasa
authorities required them to notify a police officer posted in their
hotel lobby of their plans on a daily basis. Additionally, many nonlocal
Tibetan monks, nuns, and laypersons who had resided in the TAR for as
long as 15 years were expelled in 2011 and 2012. Authorities have not
allowed many to return. For example, in December 2012 a young Tibetan
artist in Chengdu reported that government officials had forced him to
leave the TAR after discovering that he was originally from Sichuan
Province’s Ganzi (Kardze) TAP. The artist had worked for two years at a
famous TAR monastery painting and restoring sacred thangka paintings.
Even outside the TAR, many Tibetan monks and nuns reported that it
remained difficult to travel beyond their home monasteries, with
officials frequently denying permission for visiting monks to stay
temporarily at a monastery for religious education.
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Authorities allowed many nonethnic Tibetans, particularly ethnic Han
Tibetan Buddhists, only temporary visits to Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.
Implementation of this restriction was especially rigorous in the TAR and
Tibetan areas in Sichuan Province.
Foreign Travel: Many Tibetans, particularly prominent religious and
cultural figures, scholars, and activists, as well as those from rural
areas, continued to report difficulties in obtaining new, or renewing
existing, passports. Some Tibetans reported they were able to obtain
passports only after paying substantial bribes or making promises not to
travel to India. In other cases authorities precluded Tibetan students
admitted to foreign schools from studying abroad by refusing to issue
them passports. According to reports some ethnic Tibetan government and
CCP cadres in the TAR and Ganzi (Kardze) TAP, Sichuan Province, were not
allowed to send their children to study abroad. Some Tibetans, who left
the PRC for India without proper documentation, reported being able to
return on a limited basis, and then were allowed to leave again for India
through Nepal.
Tibetans continued to encounter substantial difficulties and obstacles in
traveling to India for religious, educational, and other purposes.
Contacts also reported instances of local authorities’ revoking the
passports of individuals who had traveled to India. Tight border controls
sharply limited the number of persons crossing the border into Nepal and
India. In 2012, 242 Tibetan refugees transited Nepal through the Tibetan
Reception Center, run by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees in Kathmandu, on route to permanent settlement in India, down
from 739 in 2011 and 874 in 2010.
The government restricted the movement of Tibetans in the period before
and during sensitive anniversaries and events and increased controls over
border areas at these times. Travel remained difficult, and
communications were sometimes cut off, particularly in the TAR and in
Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province.
The government regulated travel by foreigners to the TAR. In accordance
with a 1989 regulation, foreign visitors must obtain an official
confirmation letter issued by the government before entering the TAR.
Most tourists obtained such letters by booking tours through officially
registered travel agencies. In the TAR a government-designated tour guide
must accompany foreign tourists at all times. It was rare for foreigners
to obtain permission to enter the TAR by road.
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In what has become an annual practice, authorities banned many foreign
tourists from the TAR in the period before and during the March
anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising and the dual anniversaries in
July of the founding of the CCP and the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet.
Foreign tourists also faced restrictions traveling to Tibetan areas
outside the TAR, particularly Aba (Ngaba) T&QAP and Ganzi (Kardze) TAP,
Sichuan Province, although the government never issued publicly available
formal prohibitions on travel to these areas. Anecdotal evidence
suggested that the decline in the number of foreign tourists to the TAR
was more than offset by an increase in domestic visitors to the TAR.
Unlike foreign tourists, ethnic Han tourists do not need special permits
to visit the TAR, nor are they subject to rules governing the size of
their group or the means of transport used to enter the TAR.
Officials continued to restrict severely the access of foreign diplomats
and journalists to Tibet. Foreign officials were able to travel to the
region only with the permission of the TAR Foreign Affairs Office, and
even then only on closely chaperoned trips arranged by that office. Such
permission was difficult to obtain. U.S. government officials submitted
more than 16 requests for diplomatic access to the TAR between May 2011
and November, but only two were granted. In June the U.S. ambassador to
China led the first U.S. visit to the TAR in more than two years. In
October two consular officers from the U.S. consulate general in Chengdu
were allowed to travel to the TAR to assist a group of U.S. citizens
injured in a vehicle accident. Permission was granted only after a
prolonged delay and repeated requests by senior U.S. officials. U.S. and
other foreign diplomats who lawfully traveled in some Tibetan areas
outside the TAR, such as Sichuan Province’s Ganzi (Kardze) TAP and Aba
(Ngaba) T&QAP, were frequently approached by local police and often
forced to leave without reasonable explanation. With the exception of a
few highly controlled trips, authorities repeatedly denied requests for
international journalists to visit the TAR and other Tibetan areas (see
section on Freedom of Speech and Press).
Discrimination and Societal Abuses
Women
Rape and Domestic Violence: There was no confirmed information on the
incidence of rape or domestic violence.
Reproductive Rights: Family planning policies permitted ethnic Tibetans
and members of some other minority groups to have more children than
ethnic Han.
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Some Tibetans that worked for the government reported pressure from their
work units to have only one child. Depending upon the county, authorities
sometimes encouraged rural Tibetans in the TAR to limit births to three
children. Unlike other areas in the PRC where gender ratios were skewed
by sex-selective abortion and inadequate health care for female infants,
the TAR did not have a skewed gender ratio.
Prostitution in Tibetan areas was not uncommon. NGOs and health experts
have expressed serious concern about the growing prevalence of HIV/AIDS
in the TAR and other Tibetan areas.
Discrimination: There were no formal restrictions on women’s
participation in the political system, and women held many lower-level
government positions. Women were underrepresented at the provincial and
prefectural levels of government, however. According to an official
website, female cadres in the TAR accounted for more than 34.9 percent of
the TAR’s total cadres. Although China’s labor laws require equal pay for
equal work and forbid employment discrimination on the grounds of
ethnicity, race, gender, or religious belief, there were reports in the
past that Tibetan women and men employed by companies owned by ethnic Han
sometimes earned less than male or female ethnic Han employees in the
same job.
Children
Many rural Tibetan areas have implemented China’s nationwide “centralized
education” policy, which has resulted in the closure of many village
schools and the transfer of students, including elementary school
students, to boarding schools in towns and cities. Reports indicated that
many of the boarding schools did not adequately care for and supervise
their young students.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at
www.state.gov/j/tip/.
Ethnic Minorities
Although TAR census figures showed that Tibetans made up 90.5 percent of
the TAR’s permanently registered population, official figures did not
include a large number of long-, medium-, and short-term ethnic Han
residents, such as cadres
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(government and party officials), skilled and unskilled laborers,
military and paramilitary troops, and their respective dependents.
Migrants to the TAR were overwhelmingly concentrated in urban areas.
Government policies to subsidize economic development often benefited
ethnic Han more than ethnic Tibetans, causing resentment. In many
predominately ethnic Tibetan cities across the Tibetan Plateau, ethnic
Han or Hui migrants owned and managed many of the small businesses,
restaurants, and retail shops. Ethnic Tibetans continued to make up
nearly 98 percent of those registered as permanent residents in rural
areas, according to official census figures.
The government continued its campaign to resettle Tibetan nomads into
urban areas and newly created communities in rural areas across the TAR
and other Tibetan areas. Officials also offered nomads monetary
incentives to kill or sell their livestock and move to newly created
Tibetan communities in rural areas. There were reports of compulsory
resettlement. According to a December 2012 Xinhua report, more than
408,000 households in the TAR, including 2.1 million farmers and herders,
were covered by a resettlement project that provided funds for the
construction of permanent housing. According to a January official media
report, the government budgeted 875 million RMB ($143 million) to
resettle 460,000 Tibetans. The official press reported an official saying
that such resettlement programs were the “foundation for fighting the
Dalai clique,” and that resettled farmers and herders would “pray to
Buddha less and study culture and technology more.”
Improving housing conditions, health care, and education for Tibet’s
poorest were among the stated goals of resettlement, although there was a
pattern of settling herders near townships and roads and away from
monasteries, which were the traditional providers of community and social
services. A requirement that herders bear a substantial part of the
resettlement cost often forced resettled families into debt.
Although an August state media report noted that ethnic Tibetans and
other minority ethnic groups made up 70 percent of government employees
at the provincial level in the TAR, the top CCP position of TAR party
secretary continued to be held by an ethnic Han, and the corresponding
position in the vast majority of all TAR counties was also held by an
ethnic Han. Also within the TAR, ethnic Han continued to hold a
disproportionate number of the top security, military, financial,
economic, legal, judicial, and educational positions. Authorities often
prohibited Tibetans holding government and CCP positions from openly
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worshipping at monasteries or otherwise practicing their religion. Of
Qinghai Province’s six TAPs, four were headed by ethnic Han party
secretaries and two by ethnic Tibetan party secretaries. Ethnic Han party
secretaries headed Gansu Province’s one TAP, Sichuan Province’s two TAPs,
and Yunnan Province’s one TAP. There were several ethnic Tibetan party
secretaries at the county level in Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Sichuan,
Gansu, and Yunnan provinces.
Economic and social exclusion was a major source of discontent among a
varied cross section of ethnic Tibetans, including business operators,
workers, students, university graduates, farmers, and nomads. Some ethnic
Tibetans continued to report discrimination in employment, and some job
advertisements expressly noted that ethnic Tibetans were not welcome to
apply. In the past some have claimed that ethnic Han were hired
preferentially for jobs and received higher salaries for the same work.
The problem intensified after May 2012, since many Tibetans of outside
origin were expelled from the TAR, creating more job and business
opportunities for non-Tibetans. Some Tibetans reported that it was more
difficult for ethnic Tibetans than ethnic Han to obtain permits and loans
to open businesses. Restrictions on international NGOs that provided
assistance to Tibetan communities remained, resulting in the lack of many
beneficial NGO programs in the TAR and other Tibetan areas.
Government propaganda against alleged Tibetan “pro-independence forces”
contributed to Chinese societal discrimination against ordinary Tibetans.
Many Tibetan monks and nuns chose to wear nonreligious garb to avoid
harassment when traveling outside their monasteries and throughout China.
Some Tibetans in Chengdu reported that taxi drivers refused to stop for
them and hotels refused to give them rooms.
Societal Violence
Feuds among Tibetan herders and the resulting violence, in some cases
including killings, was a serious problem. According to official Qinghai
Province news sources, in May two persons were shot and killed and two
others were injured during a clash between two villages in Tongren
(Rebkong) County, Huangnan (Malho) TAP, over the harvesting of
“caterpillar fungus” on disputed grassland. As a result the government
conducted a countywide campaign of confiscating guns while carrying out
“legal education” in the villages.
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HONG KONG 2013 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) of the People’s
Republic of China (PRC). The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on the
Question of Hong Kong and the SAR’s charter, the Basic Law of the SAR
(the Basic Law), specify that the SAR will enjoy a high degree of
autonomy except in matters of defense and foreign affairs. In March 2012
a Chief Executive Election Committee composed of 1,193 members selected
C.Y. Leung as the SAR’s third chief executive (CE). The fifth-term
Legislative Council (LegCo) was elected in September 2012 from a
combination of directly elected seats and limited franchise or “small
circle” functional constituencies. Authorities maintained effective
control over the security forces. Security forces generally did not
commit human rights abuses, but there were some reports of assault by
police officers.
The most important human rights problems reported were the limited
ability of citizens to participate in and change their government,
reports of arbitrary arrest or detention and other aggressive police
tactics hampering the freedom of assembly, and a legislature with limited
powers in which certain sectors of society wielded disproportionate
political influence.
Other areas of reported concern include limitations on freedom of the
press and self-censorship, incidents of violence against the media,
denial of visas for political reasons, alleged election fraud,
trafficking in persons, and societal prejudice against certain ethnic
minorities.
The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed
abuses.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom
from:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed
arbitrary or unlawful killings.
b. Disappearance
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
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c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Basic Law prohibits torture and other forms of abuse, but there were
some reports that government officials employed them. In the first half
of the year, the police force’s Complaints against Police Office received
1,068 complaints. Of those, six were substantiated as reported, six
substantiated other than reported, one was not fully substantiated, seven
were unsubstantiated, six were false, eight did not involve fault, 114
were not pursuable, 446 were withdrawn, and 383 were pending
investigation and endorsement by the Independent Police Complaints
Council (IPCC). There were 21 allegations of assault by police officers
on persons not in custody, of which 11 were not pursuable and two were
withdrawn. Eight allegations were pending investigation as of June. There
were also 114 allegations of assault by police officers against persons
in custody in the first half of the year. Of those, one was found to be
false, 14 were not pursuable, and 43 were withdrawn as of June.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and detention center conditions generally met international
standards, and the Correctional Services Department (CSD) permitted
visits by independent human rights observers. In the past,
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) voiced concerns to the LegCo’s
Public Complaints Office, alleging “widespread use of solitary
confinement in prisons” and a “lack of labor-protection legislation for
inmates who work.”
Physical Conditions: During the year the CSD managed 24 penal
institutions (comprising minimum, medium, and maximum-security prisons; a
psychiatric center; and training, detention, rehabilitation, and drug
addiction treatment centers) with a certified accommodation capacity of
11,528 persons. As of June 30, the total prison population was 9,189, of
which 8,245 were adults 21 years old or older (6,668 males and 1,577
females). As of June 30, a total of 63 (54 male and nine female) young
offenders under the age of 16 were admitted to penal institutions,
including prison, training centers, detention centers, and drug addiction
treatment centers. Authorities did not hold male and female prisoners
together, nor were juveniles held with adults.
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The average occupancy rate for all penal institutions was 79.7 percent.
The CSD acknowledged overcrowding was a problem in certain types of penal
institutions, such as remand (pretrial detention) facilities and
maximum-security institutions.
Prisoners generally had access to potable water.
In the first half of the year, there were 11 reports of deaths of
prisoners in CSD custody. Inquest results had not been reported by year’s
end.
Administration: Prisoners and detainees were able to send and receive
letters, receive regular visits, manifest their religious beliefs or
practices, and attend available religious services in correctional
institutions. According to the CSD, every prisoner had unrestricted
access to internal and external complaint channels. Authorities permitted
prisoners and detainees to submit complaints to judicial authorities
without censorship, request investigation of credible allegations of
inhumane conditions, and initiate legal action against any alleged
inhuman condition. Judicial authorities investigated credible allegations
of inhuman conditions and documented the results of such investigations
in a publicly accessible manner. The government investigated and
monitored prison and detention center conditions, and there was an
external Office of the Ombudsman. There were no reports of any problems
regarding recordkeeping. Penal and judicial authorities used community
service and/or fines as an alternative to incarceration for nonviolent
offenders.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted human rights groups to
conduct prison visits. In the first six months of the year, there were 14
media visits and 222 visits by justices of peace (all of which were
unannounced). Justices of the peace may make suggestions and comments on
matters such as the physical environment of facilities, overcrowding,
staff improvement, training and recreational programs and activities, and
other matters affecting the welfare of inmates. There were no requests
from any human rights organizations to visit any prison.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention, but some incidents of
arbitrary arrest and detention occurred during the year.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
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The Hong Kong Police Force maintained internal security and reported to
the Security Bureau. The PRC’s People’s Liberation Army is responsible
for external security. Civilian authorities maintained effective control
over the Hong Kong Police Force, and the government had effective
mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption.
There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during
the year.
Human rights activists and some legislators expressed concern that all
IPCC members were appointed by the CE and that the IPCC’s lack of power
to conduct independent investigations limited its oversight capacity. The
IPCC cannot compel officers to participate in its investigations, and the
media reported cases of police officers declining to do so.
In August police complained that the IPCC failed to maintain impartiality
after IPCC secretary general Ricky Chu described a pro-police rally on
August 4 as a political event, which prohibited police officers from
taking part. IPCC chairman Jat Sew-tong tried to play down the incident
by calling on police to review urgently the force’s guidelines on which
events police officers can and cannot participate.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
Suspects generally were apprehended openly with warrants based on
sufficient evidence and issued by a duly authorized official. They must
be charged within 48 hours or released, and the government respected this
right. Interviews of suspects are required to be videotaped. The law
provides accused persons with the right to a prompt judicial
determination, and authorities respected this right effectively.
Detainees were informed promptly of charges against them. There was a
functioning bail system, and authorities allowed detainees ready access
to a lawyer of their choice as well as to family members.
Arbitrary Arrest: Prodemocracy activists claimed that incidents of
arbitrary arrest targeted them and were politically motivated.
Police arrested two prodemocracy lawmakers, Albert Chan and Leung
Kwok-hung, at a New Year’s Day protest. The two accused police of making
politically motivated arrests because the protesters had already
dispersed when they were detained. They were later released on bail.
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e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government
generally respected judicial independence. The judiciary provided
citizens with a fair and efficient judicial process. The courts may
interpret those provisions of the Basic Law that address matters within
the limits of the SAR’s autonomy. The courts also interpret provisions of
the Basic Law that touch on central government responsibilities or on the
relationship between the central authorities and the SAR. Before making
final judgments on these matters, which are not subject to appeal, the
courts must seek an interpretation of the relevant provisions from the
Standing Committee of the PRC’s National People’s Congress (NPC/SC). The
Basic Law requires that courts follow the NPC/SC’s interpretations,
although judgments previously rendered are not affected. As the final
interpreter of the Basic Law, the NPC/SC also has the power to initiate
interpretations of the Basic Law.
The NPC/SC’s mechanism for interpretation is its Committee for the Basic
Law, composed of six mainland and six Hong Kong members. The CE, the
LegCo president, and the chief justice nominate the Hong Kong members.
Human rights and lawyers’ organizations expressed concern that this
process, which can supersede the Court of Final Appeal’s power of final
adjudication, could be used to limit the independence of the judiciary or
degrade the court’s authority.
Trial Procedures
The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, and an independent
judiciary generally enforced this right. Trials were by jury except at
the magistrate and district court level. An attorney is provided at the
public’s expense if defendants cannot afford counsel. Several activists
complained that legal aid did not provide attorneys who were interested
in committing significant attention to their pro bono clients. Otherwise,
defendants had adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense.
Defendants have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the
charges against them and the right to a public trial without undue delay,
and defendants could confront and question witnesses testifying against
them and present witnesses to testify on their behalf. Defendants and
their attorneys had access to government-held evidence relevant to their
cases. Defendants have the right of appeal and the right not to be
compelled to testify or confess guilt.
Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence except in official corruption
cases. Under the law a current or former government official who
maintained a standard of living above that commensurate with his or her
official income, or who controls
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monies or property disproportionate to his official income, is guilty of
an offense unless he can satisfactorily explain the discrepancy. The
courts upheld this ordinance. Court proceedings were conducted in either
Chinese or English, the SAR’s two official languages.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
There is an independent and impartial judiciary for civil matters and
access to a court to bring lawsuits seeking damages for, or the cessation
of, human rights violations. Activists regularly raised concerns about
the independence of the SAR’s courts, which are endowed with a high
degree of autonomy under the Basic Law.
In March the Court of Final Appeal declined the government’s request to
seek clarification from the NPC/SC on the meaning of a 1999
interpretation of Article 24 of the Basic Law, which deals with permanent
residency. The bar association welcomed the judgment and urged the
government “to exercise extreme caution” in seeking the NPC/SC’s
interpretation of the Basic Law, as any attempt “is likely to have a
detrimental impact on the rule of law in Hong Kong.”
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected
these prohibitions.
The law provides that no personal data may be used for a purpose other
than that stated at the time of its collection without the data subject’s
consent. Specific exemptions allow SAR authorities to transfer personal
data to permit prevention, detection, or prosecution of a crime when
certain conditions were met. Data may be transferred to a body outside of
the SAR for purposes of safeguarding the security, defense, or
international relations of the SAR or for the prevention, detection, or
prosecution of a crime, provided conditions set out in the ordinance were
met. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data worked to
prevent the misuse, disclosure, or matching of personal data without the
consent of the subject individual or the commissioner.
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The use of covert surveillance and the interception of telecommunications
and postal communications can be granted only to prevent or detect
“serious crime” or protect “public security.” The law establishes a
two-tiered system for granting approval for surveillance activities,
under which surveillance of a more intrusive nature requires the approval
of a judge, while surveillance of a less intrusive nature requires the
approval of a senior law enforcement official. Applications to intercept
telecommunications must involve crimes with a penalty of at least seven
years’ imprisonment, while applications for covert surveillance must
involve crimes with a penalty of at least three years’ imprisonment or a
fine of at least HK$1 million ($129,000).
In August the Privacy Commission for Personal Data stopped the supply of
personal data from litigation and bankruptcy records through a smartphone
application that provided users with details on litigants without their
consent. All the data was already available in the public domain. Privacy
Commissioner Allan Chiang Yam-wang stated this highlighted a common
misconception that data in the public domain was open to unrestricted
use. His specific concerns were the possibility of widening the risk of
accidental breach of privacy and the indefinite storage of data.
Between January 1 and August 31, the privacy commissioner received 1,299
complaints. Of these, 21 cases were found to have violated the law, 629
were resolved or rejected after preliminary inquiries, 74 resolved or
rejected after formal investigations, and 433 withdrawn or found not
pursuable. The remaining complaints remained under consideration.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The law provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government
generally respected these rights. An independent press, an effective
judiciary, and a generally supportive government combined to promote
freedom of speech and of the press. Nevertheless, throughout the year
there were complaints lodged by free media groups about what they viewed
as increasing challenges in this area.
Press Freedoms: In August the antigraft body, the Independent Commission
against Corruption (ICAC), sought a court order compelling Commercial
Radio Hong Kong and the sun Affairs weekly magazine to surrender records
of interviews with former Chinese People’s Political Consultative
Conference
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delegate Lew Mon-hung, a move criticized by the media as an attempt to
restrict press freedom. Lew accused CE Leung of lying over his handling
of illegal structures at his home. He also railed at Leung for breaking a
promise to appoint him to the Executive Council as a reward for his
support during the 2012 CE selection. In September the High Court
dismissed the ICAC’s request on Commercial Radio Hong Kong, and in
October the ICAC withdrew its application to the court regarding sun
Affairs. The court subsequently ordered the ICAC to pay the legal costs
involved in the case.
Violence and Harassment: A number of violent attacks on media-related
personalities took place during the year. In both cases, pan-democrats
claimed that the incidents represented an increasing effort of the
central government to restrict criticism of its policies in the SAR.
In June a series of attacks targeted the prodemocracy Next Media group.
First, a stolen car rammed the gate of the home of the group’s chairman,
Jimmy Lai. The perpetrators left an axe and a knife behind before fleeing
the scene. A week later two men burned copies of Next Media’s
prodemocracy newspaper Apple Daily inside a delivery truck. A similar
event took place four days later, when three masked men burned about
26,000 copies of Apple Daily.
Also in June, Chen Ping, owner of sun Affairs, a magazine that reported
sensitive issues in China and the SAR, was assaulted by two young men
armed with clubs. He was hospitalized without severe injuries. Police
continued investigating these cases, and no arrests had been made at
year’s end.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: Reports of media self-censorship
continued during the year. Most media outlets were owned by businesses
with interests on the mainland, which led to claims that they were
vulnerable to self-censorship, with editors deferring to the perceived
concerns of publishers regarding their business interests.
In September observers criticized the HK Economic Journal for allegedly
withdrawing a commentary accusing TVB News of biased reporting
surrounding CE Leung’s September 15 district visit. The paper’s deputy
chief editor, Yuen Yiu-ching, who was against the withdrawal decision,
said the commentary was fair in criticizing TVB for imbalanced reporting.
He accused the paper of imposing self-censorship under its newly
appointed chief editor, Alice Kwok. Prodemocracy Civic Party lawmaker
Claudia Mo accused TVB of contravening the
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Communications Authority’s General Code of Practice on Television Program
Standards by carrying biased reports which might have misled the public.
In November free press activists criticized Commercial Radio Hong Kong’s
(CRHK) decision to move outspoken radio host Siring Li from a popular
morning show to an evening program as politically motivated and yet
another example of media self-censorship. Li was a vocal critic of the
government and supporter of public demonstration on several social issues
and has angered many progovernment supporters. CRHK CEO Stephen Chan
claimed that Li’s removal was a programming decision and had nothing to
do with the fact that the station’s extension of its license would be up
for renewal by the government before 2016.
Internet Freedom
There were no government restrictions on access to the internet; there
was some monitoring of the internet. Prodemocracy activists claimed
central government authorities closely monitored their e-mails and
internet use. The internet was widely available and used extensively.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
In general there were some restrictions on academic freedom and cultural
events. Some scholars suggested Hong Kong-based academics practiced some
self-censorship in their China-related work to preserve good relations
and research and lecturing opportunities in the mainland.
Following large-scale protests in August 2012, the government announced
it would suspend a controversial “moral and national education
curriculum,” which critics argued would gloss over difficult periods in
China’s history, such as the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square
massacre. During the year, however, the government adopted a policy
allowing individual schools to adopt the plan. In a July press briefing,
Secretary for Education Eddie Ng told the media that a standardized
curriculum should include moral and national education as a component.
Throughout the year, critics claimed that the government’s December 2012
decision to transfer a HK$20 million Hong Kong dollars (HK$) ($2.6
million) budget from the independent Research Grants Council to a public
policy research fund chaired by an academic from the Central Policy Unit,
a government body led
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by an alleged progovernment policy thinker, continued to threaten
academic freedom.
In July Lam Wai-sze, a teacher, walked past a Falun Gong group being
harassed by progovernment Hong Kong Youth Care Association members, while
police reportedly stood by and did not intervene. When bystanders tried
to defend the practitioners, police formed a human barricade to separate
the opposing sides. On witnessing this, Lam scolded police for their
behavior in protecting those harassing Falun Gong practitioners. She
subsequently crossed the human barricade and exchanged heated words with
the officers. A pro-establishment local publication taped the incident
and posted an edited version online in a bid to present the teacher as
the aggressor. As a result Lam and the primary school where she taught
were forced to apologize publicly, and CE Leung requested a report on Lam
from Secretary for Education Eddie Ng. LegCo member Ip Kin-yuen accused
the CE of being “seriously biased” on the case, and it was unclear
whether Ng compiled a report.
In October the local arts community criticized the Hong Kong Ballet’s
removal of a 12-minute segment on the Cultural Revolution during a
performance piece. According to several arts and culture representatives,
the production team cut the segment following the attendance of Central
Government Liaison Office director Zhang Xiaoming and Hong Kong chief
secretary Carrie Lam at the play. Hong Kong Ballet artistic director
Madeleine Onne told the media the section was cut for “artistic reasons”
but would be restored.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of Assembly
The law provides for freedom of assembly and association, and the
government generally respected these rights. The government routinely
issued the required “letter of no objection” for public meetings and
demonstrations, and the overwhelming majority of protests occurred
without serious incident. Government statistics indicated that an average
of seven to eight “public events” occurred every day. Activists and
pan-democratic legislators, however, expressed concern that the
government took a more restrictive view of protests when protests
occurred at the Central Government Liaison Office, which saw several
clashes with protesters end in arrests. Activists alleged that police
acted under instructions from the mainland government, which police
denied.
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Demonstrators continued to claim that their ability to protest had become
increasingly difficult due to Hong Kong Police commissioner Andy Tsang’s
opposition to prodemocracy organized protests. According to organizers,
430,000 persons participated in the annual July 1 demonstration, and they
focused on denouncing the PRC’s growing interference and the selection of
C.Y. Leung as CE. Police estimated there were 66,000 protesters.
In May police arrested Melody Chan, a female trainee lawyer and volunteer
for the Occupy Central campaign--a civil disobedience effort to press for
universal suffrage in Hong Kong’s elections--for unauthorized assembly in
a rally two years previous. She was sentenced to a one-year bond in July,
implying that she would be liable to a fine of HK$2,000 ($256) and six
months’ imprisonment if she broke the law in the next 12 months. Chan
told the media after the judgment that she accepted the bond because she
did not want the case to affect her work.
Activists and some lawmakers expressed concern about the lack of
guidelines as to whether a person arrested on assault charges related to
public demonstrations would be charged under the Police Force Ordinance
(PFO) or the Offenses against the Person Ordinance (OAPO). Although both
ordinances criminalize assault on a police officer on duty, the PFO
carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and a HK$5,000
($645) fine, while the OAPO carries a maximum penalty of two years’
imprisonment. Some activists also alleged that police faced no penalty
for making arrests that ultimately were not prosecuted or were dismissed
by the courts, allowing them to use arrest to intimidate and discredit
protesters. The Civil Human Rights Front NGO alliance reported that law
enforcement charged an increasing number of protest participants under
the tougher OAPO.
Freedom of Association
The law provides for this right, and the government generally respected
it. In the first half of the year, authorities registered 1,317 societies
and did not refuse any applications.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at
www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/.
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d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of
Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel,
emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected
these rights, with some prominent exceptions.
Under the “one country, two systems” framework, the SAR continued to
administer its own immigration and entry policies and make determinations
regarding claims under the UN Convention against Torture (CAT)
independently. There were 3,637 torture claims pending Immigration
Department processing. The Immigration Department determined only eight
of 1,079 torture claims it processed were substantiated. Applicants and
activists continue to complain over the slow processing of claims and
limited government subsidies available to applicants.
The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing
protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees,
returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons
of concern.
There continued to be claims that persons traveling to the SAR for
reasons that did not appear to contravene the law were refused entry by
the Immigration Department. Local Falun Gong leaders claimed that the
Immigration Department denied entry into the SAR to a number of their
practitioners from Taiwan without providing an explanation. The
Immigration Department, as a matter of policy, declined to comment on
individual cases. Activists, some legislators, and others contended that
the refusals, usually of persons holding views critical of the mainland,
were made at the behest of PRC authorities. The Security Bureau countered
that, while the Immigration Department exchanges information with other
immigration authorities, including the mainland, it makes its decisions
independently.
Foreign Travel: Most residents easily obtained travel documents from the
SAR government; however, PRC authorities did not permit some human rights
activists and most prodemocracy legislators to visit the mainland.
Emigration and Repatriation: Government policy is to repatriate
undocumented migrants who arrived from the mainland, and authorities did
not consider them for refugee status. As of September, 2,645 immigration
offenders and illegal immigrants were repatriated to the mainland. The
government did not recognize
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the Taiwan passport as valid for visa endorsement purposes, although
convenient mechanisms existed for Taiwan passport holders to visit.
Beginning in September, Taiwan visitors were able to register online and
stay for a month if they held a mainland travel permit.
Protection of Refugees
Access to Asylum: The SAR has a firm policy of not granting asylum or
refugee status and has no temporary protection policy. The government’s
practice was to refer refugee and asylum claimants to a lawyer or the
UNHCR.
Refoulement: The government recognizes a legal obligation to grant
nonrefoulement protection under the CAT, as the CAT has applied to Hong
Kong since 1992. In 2009 the Immigration Department introduced an
“enhanced screening mechanism” for torture claims to meet the “high
standards of fairness” required by the SAR’s courts. Claimants had access
to legal counsel from the Duty Lawyer Service, whose lawyers received
training in refugee and torture claims from the Hong Kong Academy of Law.
There was also a system to appeal decisions by the Immigration
Department, with reviews conducted by experienced magistrates.
Employment: The government defines CAT claimants and asylum seekers as
illegal immigrants or “overstayers” in the SAR, and, as such, they have
no legal right to work in the city. Individuals whose claims were pending
have no legal right to work, and those granted either refugee status by
the UNHCR or relief from removal under the CAT were permitted to work
only with approval from the director of immigration. They were also
ineligible for training by either the Employees Retraining Board or the
Vocational Training Council. A CAT claimant whose torture claim was
accepted could apply to the director of immigration for permission to
work in the SAR. In April a Sri Lankan torture claimant received a
temporary work permit from the Immigration Department just a day before
he was to file a legal challenge against the department in the Court of
Final Appeal. This was the first case of a torture claimant allowed to
work in the city.
Access to Basic Services: The government, in collaboration with NGO
International Social Service Hong Kong Branch, offered in-kind
assistance, including temporary accommodation, food, clothing,
appropriate transport allowance, counseling, medical services, and other
basic necessities, to asylum seekers and torture claimants while their
claims were being processed. As of August, 4,821 persons were receiving
assistance.
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The Hospital Authority provided waivers of medical expense at public
clinics or hospitals to service users on a case-by-case basis, and the
Education Bureau accepted schooling applications for minor claimants who
were not expected to be removed from the SAR within a short period.
Applications to attend school or university were then authorized on a
case-by-case basis at the discretion of the director of immigration.
In September, UN refugee officials stated their concern for the welfare
of nearly 1,000 asylum seekers living in squalor in the SAR’s New
Territories. They warned the government that it was failing to ensure the
asylum seekers’ right to an adequate standard of living.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change
Their Government
The Basic Law limits the right of residents to change their government
peacefully. A portion of the LegCo was elected by a subset of voters
representing “functional constituencies” (FCs) that speak for key
economic and social sectors. Under this structure some individuals were
able to control multiple votes for LegCo members. The constituencies that
elected the 30 FC LegCo seats had fewer voters in total than the
constituency for a single geographical constituency (GC) seat, of which
there were 30 in the LegCo. Beginning in September 2012, voters were able
to elect five newly created FC seats in the district council sector,
known as “super seats.” These five LegCo members were elected by voters
who were not otherwise represented in any FC. The government stated that
the current method of selecting FC legislators did not conform to the
principle of universal suffrage, but it took no steps to eliminate the
FCs. In addition to the five new FC seats, five additional GC seats were
added in 2012, bringing the previous 60-member legislative body to 70
seats.
The Basic Law prohibits LegCo members from introducing bills that affect
public expenditure, political structure, or government policy. The SAR
sends 36 deputies to the mainland’s National People’s Congress (NPC) and
had 199 delegates in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative
Conference. The approval of the CE, two-thirds of LegCo, and two-thirds
of the SAR’s delegates to the NPC are required to place an amendment of
the Basic Law on the agenda of the NPC, which has the sole power to amend
the Basic Law.
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In 2012 the CE used his authority to appoint 68 of the 534 members of the
district councils, the SAR’s most grassroots-level elected bodies,
despite earlier promises to eliminate all appointed seats. The government
stated that it would work on phasing out the nonelected seats in two
tranches in 2016 and 2020--with the exception of 27 ex-officio seats
reserved for indigenous Chinese rural council representatives--but
pan-democrats complained that this violated a previous understanding
between the LegCo and the government to eliminate all appointed district
councilors immediately.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: In March 2012, in a process widely criticized as
undemocratic, the 1,193-member CE Election Committee, dominated by
progovernment electors and their allies, selected former Executive
Council Convenor C.Y. Leung to be the SAR’s chief executive. The PRC’s
State Council formally appointed him, and President Hu Jintao swore in
Leung in July 2012.
The September 2012 elections for a new 70-member LegCo were considered
generally free and fair according to the standards established in the
Basic Law. Of the 35 FC seats, 16 incumbents, all progovernment, returned
uncontested. When combined with 35 GC seats, pro-PRC and
pro-establishment candidates won 43 of 70 LegCo seats, while prodemocracy
candidates won 27 seats.
Between January and August, the Independent Commission against Corruption
(ICAC) received 553 complaints concerning alleged breaches of provisions
under the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance. The
complaints included allegations of bribing voters, voting after giving
false or misleading information to an elections officer, incurring
election expenses by persons other than the candidate or his agent,
publishing false or misleading statements about a candidate, publishing
election advertisements that do not meet certain requirements, failure to
file election returns, and providing others with refreshments and
entertainment at elections. As of September, 490 complaints were under
investigation, one was deemed nonpursuable, and 62 were unsubstantiated
after investigation. During the same period, five persons were prosecuted
in two election cases from prior years. Of these, one person was
convicted and four were awaiting trial.
Political Parties: Pan-democratic parties faced a number of institutional
challenges, which prevented them from securing a majority of the seats in
the LegCo or having one of their members become CE. The voting process
ensured probusiness representatives and government allies controlled a
majority. In
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addition, the central government and its business supporters provided
generous financial resources to parties that supported the central
government’s political agenda in the SAR, ensuring that these
organizations would control the levers of government and senior
positions.
Participation of Women and Minorities: Six of the 29 members of the ExCo
(cabinet-level secretaries and “nonofficial” councilors who advise the
CE) were women. Nine of the 35 directly elected LegCo members were women,
and women held two of the 35 FC seats. Thirteen of the 44 most senior
government officials (secretaries, undersecretaries, and permanent
secretaries) were women.
There is no legal restriction against non-Chinese running for electoral
office or participating in the civil service, although most elected or
senior appointed positions require that the officeholder have a legal
right of abode only in the SAR. There were no members of ethnic
minorities in the LegCo. The government regarded ethnic origin as
irrelevant to civil service appointment and did not collect data on the
number of non-ethnic Chinese serving in the civil service, a practice
that some observers criticized as preventing the government from
monitoring hiring and promotion rates for nonethnic Chinese.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the
government generally implemented it effectively. The SAR continued to be
viewed as relatively uncorrupt; however, there were several major arrests
during the year, and many observers held that corruption in general
seemed to be on the rise. An ICAC spokesman stated that some prominent
corruption cases widely reported in the media might have affected
perception of the SAR.
In October organizers claimed 120,000 people (police estimated 36,000)
gathered at government headquarters to protest the government’s decision
to deny a free-to-air television broadcast license to Hong Kong
Television Network (HKTV). Activists claimed that the decision to award
licenses to two HKTV competitors while denying HKTV’s application was
nontransparent and politically motivated. CE Leung denied the claims,
calling the license application process fair and legal.
Corruption: The ICAC, which is charged with the investigation and
prosecution of cases, prevention, and policy development, was responsible
for combating corruption. The ICAC generally operated effectively and
independently, actively collaborated with civil society, and had
sufficient resources. Between January and
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September 30, the ICAC received 529 corruption reports involving
government personnel concerning alleged breaches of provisions under the
Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. Of these reports, as of September, the
ICAC had 240 under investigation, deemed 242 to be nonpursuable, and
deemed 47 unsubstantiated after investigation. During the same period,
authorities prosecuted 13 government personnel in 13 cases based on
reports received prior to 2013. Of these, four were convicted, eight were
awaiting trial, and one was acquitted.
In September former ICAC commissioner Timothy Tong was suspected of lying
and making false statements under oath due to discrepancies between his
testimonies in the legislature and the contents of a report released in
early September by the Independent Review Committee on ICAC’s Regulatory
Systems and Procedures for handling Official Entertainment, Gifts, and
Visits. Tong was accused of lavish spending on meals with officials and
academics on overseas visits. The LegCo summoned him to explain the
discrepancies on September 25 and 26.
In August former secretary for development Mak Chai-kwong and Highways
Department assistant director Tsang King-man and their wives were
sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment and suspended for two years for
defrauding the government of private tenancy allowances between 1985 and
1990.
In the first six months of the year, the ICAC received 1,256 corruption
reports, of which 774 concerned the private sector, 393 were related to
government departments, and 89 involved public bodies.
Whistleblower Protection: There are no legal protections for
whistleblowers.
Financial Disclosure: The SAR requires the 27 most senior civil service
officials to declare their financial investments annually and the
approximately 3,100 senior working-level officials to do so biennially.
Policy bureaus may impose additional reporting requirements for positions
seen as having a greater risk of conflict of interest. The Civil Service
Bureau monitors and verifies disclosures, which are available to the
public. There are criminal and administrative sanctions for
noncompliance.
In July allegations arose that Secretary for Development Paul Chan had a
conflict of interest related to farmland belonging to a company that his
wife and brother-in-law owned in an area which the government planned to
develop. In October the
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progovernment majority opposed a pan-democratic motion in LegCo to
investigate Chan’s involvement in this issue.
Public Access to Information: There is no freedom of information law. An
administrative Code on Access to Information serves as the framework for
the provision of information by government bureaus and departments and
the ICAC. Under the code, authorities may refuse to disclose information
if doing so would cause or risk causing harm or prejudice in several
broad areas: national security and foreign affairs (which were reserved
to the central government); immigration issues; judicial and law
enforcement issues; direct risks to individuals; damage to the
environment; improper gain or advantage; management of the economy;
management and operation of the public service; internal discussion and
advice; public employment and public appointments; research, statistics,
and analysis; third-party information; business affairs; premature
requests; and information on which legal restrictions apply. Political
inconvenience or the potential for embarrassment were not a justifiable
basis for withholding information. Between January and June, the Office
of the Ombudsman received 41 complaints relating to the Code on Access to
Information.
Through September the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau received
1,090 requests for information under the code, of which 76 requests were
withdrawn by requestors and 74 requests covered cases in which the
government bureau or department concerned did not hold the requested
information. Of the 1,222 remaining requests, at the end of June, 1,118
requests had been met in full (1,094 requests) or in part (24 requests).
Of the remaining cases, 74 requests were still being processed and 30
were refused.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A wide variety of domestic and international human rights groups
generally operated without government restriction, investigating and
publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials
generally were cooperative and responsive to their views. Prominent human
rights activists critical of the central government also operated freely
and maintained permanent resident status in the SAR.
Government Human Rights Bodies: There is an Office of the Ombudsman and
an Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC). The government appointed both the
ombudsman and the EOC commissioners, who were independent in their
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operations. Both organizations operated without interference from the
government and published critical findings in their areas of
responsibility. EOC commissioner York Chow Yat-ngok served as a vocal
public advocate on minority rights, access to public and commercial
buildings for persons with disabilities, and other issues within the
EOC’s responsibility.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The law provides that all permanent residents are equal, and the
government enforced this. The EOC is responsible for enforcing the
relevant laws.
Women
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal
rape, and police enforced the law effectively. Through June police
received allegations of 59 rape and 759 indecent assault, of which police
identified 53 cases as rape and 505 cases as indecent assault.
The government regarded domestic violence against women as a serious
concern and took measures to prevent and prosecute offenses. It
effectively enforced criminal statutes prohibiting domestic violence
against women and prosecuted violators. From January to June, police
investigated 946 domestic violence-related cases. The law allows victims
to seek a three-month injunction, extendable to six months, against an
abuser. The ordinance does not criminalize domestic violence directly,
although abusers may be liable for criminal charges under other
ordinances. The government enforced the law and prosecuted violators, but
sentences typically consisted only of injunctions or restraining orders.
The law covers molestation between married couples, homosexual and
heterosexual cohabitants, former spouses or cohabitants, and immediate
and extended family members. It protects victims under age 18, allowing
them to apply for an injunction in their own right, with the assistance
of an adult guardian, against molestation by their parents, siblings, and
specified immediate and extended family members. The law also empowers
the court to require that the abuser attend an antiviolence program. In
cases in which the abuser caused bodily harm, the court may attach an
authorization of arrest to an existing injunction, and the court can
extend both injunctions and authorizations for arrest to two years.
The government maintained programs that provided intervention and
counseling to batterers. Sixty-five integrated family service centers and
11 family and child
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protective services units offered services to domestic violence victims
and batterers. The government continued its public information campaign
to strengthen families and combat violence, and increased public
education on the prevention of domestic violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment or discrimination
on the basis of sex, marital status, and pregnancy. The law applies to
both men and women, and police enforced the law effectively.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals had the right to decide the
number, spacing, and timing of children and had the information and means
to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to
information on contraception, skilled attendance at delivery, and
prenatal and postpartum care was widely available.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal status and rights as men. As
of April women filled 35.8 percent of the civil service at all ranks and
33.7 percent at the directorate level. Women made up 59.8 percent of the
LegCo Secretariat workforce and 46.7 percent of its directorate ranks.
Twenty-four percent of judges and judicial officers were women, while
women constituted 70 percent of the nonjudges and judicial officer staff
of the courts.
According to gender-rights activists and public-policy analysts, while
the law treats men and women equally in terms of property rights in
divorce settlements and inheritance matters, women faced discrimination
in employment, salary, welfare, inheritance, and promotion. Women
reportedly formed the majority of the working poor and those who fall
outside the protection of labor laws.
The law authorizes the EOC to work towards the elimination of
discrimination and harassment as well as to promote equal opportunity
between men and women. A Women’s Commission served as an advisory body
for policies related to women, and a number of NGOs were active in
raising problems of societal attitudes and discrimination against women.
Children
Birth Registration: All Chinese nationals born in the SAR or abroad to
parents of whom at least one is a PRC-national Hong Kong permanent
resident acquire both PRC citizenship and Hong Kong permanent residence,
the latter allowing right of abode in the SAR. Children born in the SAR
to non-Chinese parents, at least one
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of whom is a permanent resident, acquire permanent residence and qualify
to apply for naturalization as PRC citizens. Registration of all such
statuses was routine.
Child Abuse: From January through June, there were 608 cases of child
abuse: 246 involved physical abuse (referring to victims younger than 14)
and 362 involved sexual abuse (referring to victims younger than 17). The
law mandates protection for victims of child abuse, such as battery,
assault, neglect, abandonment, and sexual exploitation, and the
government enforced the law. The law allows for the prosecution of
certain sexual offenses, including against minors, committed outside the
territory of the SAR.
The government provides parent-education programs, including instruction
on child abuse prevention, in all 50 of the Department of Health’s
maternal and child health centers. It also provided public education
programs to raise awareness of child abuse and alert children about how
to protect themselves. The Social Welfare Department provided clinical
psychologists for its clinical psychology units and social workers for
its family and child protective services units. Police maintained a child
abuse investigation unit and in collaboration with the Social Welfare
Department ran a child witness support program. A law on childcare
centers helped prevent unsuitable persons from providing childcare
services.
Forced and Early Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 16 and
written consent is required for marriage before the age of 21. There was
no evidence of early or forced marriage in the SAR.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: There were reports of girls under the
age of 18 from some countries in Asia being subjected to sex trafficking
in the SAR.
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at
www.state.gov/j/tip/.
The legal age of consent for heterosexuals is 16. Under the law a person
having “unlawful sexual intercourse” with a victim under 16 is subject to
five years’ imprisonment, while having unlawful sexual intercourse with a
victim under 13 carries a sentence of imprisonment for life.
The law makes it an offense to possess, produce, copy, import, or export
pornography involving a child under the age of 18 or to publish or cause
to be published any advertisement that conveys or is likely to be
understood as conveying the message that a person has published,
publishes, or intends to publish
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any child pornography. The penalty for creation, publication, or
advertisement of child pornography is eight years’ imprisonment, while
possession carries a penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
International Child Abductions: The SAR is a party to the 1980 Hague
Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the
Department of State’s country-specific information at
http://travel.state.gov/abduction/country/country_495.html.
Anti-Semitism
The Jewish community numbered approximately 5,000 to 6,000 persons and
reported few acts of anti-Semitism during the year. There were concerns
within the Jewish community about some religious sermons in the otherwise
moderate Muslim community.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at
www.state.gov/j/tip/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory,
intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to
health care, and the provision of other state services, and the
government generally enforced these provisions. The government generally
implemented laws and programs to ensure that persons with disabilities
have access to buildings, information, and communications, although there
were reports of some restrictions.
The Disability Discrimination Ordinance states that children with special
education needs must have equal opportunity in accessing education. It is
against the law for a school to discriminate against a student with a
disability. According to the government, students with severe or multiple
disabilities are placed in special schools with parental consent, while
students with less severe disabilities are enrolled in ordinary schools.
There were occasional media reports about alleged abuses in education and
mental health facilities; the most recent court case involving such
abuses was in 2011.
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Although the central government has signed the Convention on the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities, the SAR still adheres to its own Disability
Discrimination Ordinance, which human rights groups argued is much
narrower and does not oblige the government to promote equal
opportunities.
The Social Welfare Department (SWD), directly or in coordination with
NGOs and employers, provided training and vocational rehabilitation
services to assist persons with disabilities. As of June a total of
16,938 persons were participating in these various programs. As of June
the SWD offered 12,232 places for subsidized resident-care services for
persons unable to live independently. As of June, the SWD provided 6,230
places for preschool services to children with disabilities with the goal
of improving their opportunity to participate in regular schools and
extracurricular activities.
As of April the government employed 3,391 civil servants with
disabilities. Persons with disabilities filled 2 percent of LegCo
secretariat positions, 1 percent of judicial positions, and 2 percent of
nonjudicial positions in the judiciary.
Instances of discrimination against persons with disabilities persisted
in employment, education, and the provision of some public services. The
law calls for improved building access and sanctions against those who
discriminate.
Despite inspections and the occasional closure of noncompliant
businesses, access to public buildings (including public schools) and
transportation remained a serious problem for persons with disabilities.
Persons with disabilities protested that the government discriminated
against them. They claimed that persons with severe disabilities who
lived with their families could qualify for social security only by
moving out of their families’ homes and living alone or if every family
member quit their jobs. The government firmly refuted this claim, noting
that the government instituted a disability allowance program for the
severely disabled (those with “100 percent loss of earning capacity”) to
help persons with disabilities meet special needs arising from their
condition. In addition, as with all citizens of the SAR facing financial
hardship, persons with disabilities may apply for comprehensive social
security assistance.
According to the EOC, the SAR lagged in providing equal opportunities for
students with disabilities, despite having operated an integrated
education policy since 1997.
National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
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Although 94 percent ethnic Chinese, the SAR is a multi-ethnic society
with persons from a number of ethnic groups recognized as permanent
residents with full rights under the law. The law prohibits
discrimination based on the law, and the EOC oversees implementation and
enforcement of the law. The Race Relations Unit, which is subordinate to
the Home Affairs Bureau, served as secretariat to the Committee on the
Promotion of Racial Harmony and implemented the committee’s programs. The
EOC maintained a hotline for inquiries and complaints concerning racial
discrimination. The EOC’s code of practice (along with selected other EOC
materials) was available in Hindi, Thai, Urdu, Nepali, Indonesian, and
Tagalog, in addition to Chinese and English.
In September, Commissioner Chow called on the government to recognize
minority languages in its job requirements. He stated that ethnic
minorities had difficulties meeting the Chinese language requirement for
jobs in the civil service. As ethnic minorities accounted for about 6
percent of the SAR’s population, Chow expressed hope the government would
revise its policy. The government had not commented on Chow’s remarks.
The Race Relations Unit sponsored a cross-cultural learning program for
non-Chinese speaking youth through grants to NGOs.
The government had a policy to integrate non-Chinese students into the
SAR’s schools. The government also provided a special grant for schools
with a critical mass of non-Chinese students to develop their own
programs, share best practices with other schools, develop supplementary
curriculum materials, and set up Chinese-language support centers to
provide after-school programs. According to the press, of 852 government
schools, 31 enrolled mostly ethnic minorities and taught limited Chinese.
The government claimed that it had ceased referring to these schools as
“designated schools.”
Activists expressed concern that there was no formal government-provided
course to prepare students for the General Certificate for Secondary
Education examination in Chinese, a passing grade from which is required
for most civil service employment. Activists also noted that government
programs encouraging predominantly Chinese schools to welcome minority
students backfired, turning whole schools into “segregated institutions.”
These schools did not teach Chinese to the non-ethnic Chinese students.
Students who did not learn Chinese had significant difficulty entering
university and the labor market, leading to a cycle of
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problems, including unemployment and poverty, according to reports from
the government and NGOs.
In 2010 the EOC established a working group on education for ethnic
minorities, which presented a set of recommendations to the Education
Bureau in 2011. According to activists and the EOC, the Education Bureau
stressed that it was a parental decision to choose between mainstream and
designated schools. It agreed that support measures in both types of
schools should be strengthened to assist non-Chinese students in learning
Chinese, but it expressed reservation about the proposed development of
an alternative Chinese curriculum on the grounds of low recognition by
international universities.
In October the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called the
existence of schools where many students came from an ethnic minority,
“de facto discrimination.” The committee called on the government to
“urgently abolish” the schools and promote minority children’s access to
mainstream institutions.
Minority group leaders and activists complained that government
requirements for all job applicants to speak Chinese kept nonnative
Chinese speakers out of civil service and law enforcement positions. The
Hong Kong Police Force reportedly employed 10 nonethnic Chinese
constables during the year.
Activists and the government disputed whether new immigrants from the
mainland should be considered as a population of concern under
antidiscrimination laws. While concerns were raised that new immigrants
do not qualify to receive social welfare benefits until they have resided
in the SAR for seven years, the courts upheld this legal standard. Such
immigrants can apply on a case-specific basis for assistance.
Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity
No laws criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity. In 2005 the
Court of First Instance ruled that maintaining the age of consent for
male-male relations at 21 rather than 16 violated the Bill of Rights
Ordinance. No specific laws govern age of consent for female-female
relations.
In November a transgender woman from South America told the media that
immigration and customs officers behaved “like animals” during a body
search and mocked her during a nine-hour episode and body
search--conducted by male staff
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despite her plea for female officers--at the airport in September. She
began the process for applying for asylum in the SAR based on fears she
would be killed if she returned to the country in which she was born.
Officials denied the allegations and insisted proper procedures were
followed amid initial suspicion about her identity and her reason for
arriving in the SAR. Following the episode at the airport, she told the
media that staff at one of the city’s largest public hospitals diagnosed
her as a psychiatric patient and put her in restraints. The hospital
claimed the action was necessary because she was suicidal.
While the SAR has laws that ban discrimination on the grounds of race,
sex, disability, and family status, no law prohibits companies from
discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation. Lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender (LGBT) professionals are permitted to bring partners to
the SAR only on a “prolonged visitor visa.” Successful applicants,
however, cannot work, obtain an identification card, or qualify for
permanent residency. The government claimed public education was
sufficient to protect the rights of the LGBT community and that
legislation was not necessary.
The SAR elected its first openly gay member to LegCo in September 2012.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
There were no reports of societal violence or discrimination against
persons with HIV/AIDS or against other groups not covered above.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law, including related regulations and statutory instruments,
provides for the right of workers to form and join independent unions
without previous authorization or excessive requirements and conduct
legal strikes, but does not provide for the right to collective
bargaining. Trade unions must register with the government’s Registry of
Trade Unions and must have a minimum membership of seven persons for
registration. Unions could affiliate, and workers were not prevented from
unionizing. Through September authorities registered seven new trade
unions, while three were deregistered at the unions’ request. At the
beginning of the year, there were approximately 3,427,800 salaried
employees and wage earners, of whom 813,897, or approximately 23.7
percent of the working population, belonged to unions.
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The law allows the use of union funds for political purposes, provided a
union has the authorization of the majority of its voting members at a
general meeting.
The law provides for the right to strike, although there are some
restrictions on this right for civil servants. According to the
Employment Ordinance (EO), an employer cannot fire, penalize, or
discriminate against an employee who exercises his union rights and
cannot prevent or deter the employee from exercising his union rights. In
addition, under the EO, an employee unreasonably and unlawfully dismissed
(including on the grounds of the employee exercising his trade union
rights) is entitled to remedy in the form of an order for reinstatement
or reengagement, subject to mutual consent of the employer and the
employee. The government reported that, as of September, four strikes
involving 774 workers had occurred. Activists claimed that many more
strikes took place but that the government did not want to tarnish the
SAR’s business-friendly image by acknowledging them.
The law provides for reinstatement and or compensation not exceeding
HK$150,000 ($19,300) for unreasonable and unlawful dismissal.
The Workplace Consultation Promotion Division in the Labor Department
facilitated communication, consultation, and voluntary negotiation
between employers and employees. Tripartite committees for each of the
nine sectors of the economy included representatives from some trade
unions, employers, and the Labor Department. During a labor dispute, the
Labor Relations Division of the Labor Department facilitates conciliation
so that the dispute can be settled with minimum friction and disruption.
Worker organizations were independent of the government and political
parties. Prodemocracy labor activists alleged, however, that only
progovernment unions were able to participate substantively in the
tripartite process, while the prodemocracy Hong Kong Confederation of
Trade Unions was consistently excluded. Antiunion discrimination did not
occur.
Although there was no legislative prohibition against strikes and the
right and freedom to strike are enshrined in Article 27 of the Basic Law,
most workers had to sign employment contracts, which typically stated
that walking off the job was a breach of contract and could lead to
summary dismissal. Various sections of the EO prohibit firing an employee
for striking and void any section of an employment contract that would
punish a worker for striking. As in past years, thousands of
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workers participated in the annual May 1 Labor Day march calling for a
raise in the minimum wage and better worker protections. According to the
government, there were no reports that employers fired workers for
participating in a strike during the year.
In May more than 300 dockworkers returned to work at the Kwai Tsing
Container Terminals after a 40-day strike ended upon the contractors’
assurance of a 9.8 percent pay increase. The strike was the longest since
the SAR’s 1997 handover to the PRC. Secretary for Labor and Welfare
Matthew Cheung told the LegCo that the action was estimated to have cost
striking workers more than HK$10 million ($1.29 million) in wages.
Dockworkers and unions maintained that, without the right to collective
bargaining, they could only force bosses to negotiate through strikes and
public pressure. The situation of the dockworkers was further complicated
by the common business practice of appointing contractors to act as
middlemen between the corporation and the workers.
In August a strike by 200 workers at an Express Rail Link stop ended
after 14 hours when the contractor gave in to demands related to
unreasonable pay deductions and working conditions.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, and the
government effectively enforced such laws. There were concerns that some
migrant workers faced high levels of indebtedness assumed as part of the
terms of employment, creating a risk they could fall victim to debt
bondage. The SAR prohibits the collection of employment-related debt, but
prosecution was hampered by looser restrictions in some countries that
send workers. Some locally licensed employment agencies were suspected of
colluding with Indonesian agencies to profit from a debt scheme, and some
local agencies illegally confiscated the passports, employment contracts,
and automatic teller machine cards of domestic workers and withheld them
until their debt had been repaid. The government conveyed its concerns
about these cases to a number of foreign missions.
There also were reports that some employers illegally forbade domestic
workers from leaving the residence of work for non-work related reasons,
effectively preventing them from reporting exploitation to authorities.
SAR authorities claimed they encouraged aggrieved workers to lodge
complaints and make use of government conciliation services, as well as
actively pursued reports of any labor violations.
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Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at
www.state.gov/j/tip/.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
There were laws to protect children from exploitation in the workplace.
Regulations prohibit employment of children under the age of 15 in any
industrial establishment. Other regulations limit work hours in the
manufacturing sector for persons who are 15 to 17 years of age to eight
hours per day and 48 hours per week between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Overtime in
industrial establishments with employment in dangerous trades is
prohibited for persons under the age of 18.
Children who are 13 and 14 years old may work in certain nonindustrial
establishments, subject to conditions aimed at ensuring a minimum of nine
years of education and protection of their safety, health, and welfare.
The Labor Department effectively enforced these laws and regularly
inspected workplaces to enforce compliance with the regulations. In the
first eight months of the year, the Labor Department conducted 107,447
inspections. It detected two breaches of child labor regulations, with
prosecution to be subject to the results of investigations related to
these breaches.
d. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The SAR’s first statutory minimum hourly wage, HK$28 ($3.61), came into
force in 2011. It was adjusted to HK$30 ($3.87) in May. In September the
government’s Commission on Poverty set the official poverty line at half
of the median monthly household income before tax and welfare transfers
based on household size. For a one-person household, the poverty line was
set at HK$3,600 ($465), for a two-person household HK$7,700 ($993), for a
three-person household HK$11,500 ($1,483), and so on. According to this
definition, more than 1.31 million people (out of a population of
approximately 7.18 million) were living in poverty. A study released in
November by a group of Hong Kong and British academics claimed that there
were 160,000 more Hong Kongers ( a total of 1.47 million) living in
poverty than shown in government estimates.
Employers and employer associations often set wages. In addition, some
activists claimed that employers used employment contracts that defined
workers as “self-employed” to avoid employer-provided benefits, such as
paid leave, sick leave,
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medical insurance, workers’ compensation, or Mandatory Provident Fund
payments. According to the Labor Department, there were cases in which
employers faced heavy court fines for such behavior. The department held
that it was seeking to promote public awareness, consultation,
conciliation services, and tougher enforcement to safeguard employees’
rights.
There is no law concerning working hours, paid weekly rest, rest breaks,
or compulsory overtime for most employees. For certain groups and
occupations, such as security guards and certain categories of drivers,
there are regulations and guidelines on working hours and rest breaks.
According to the General Household Survey conducted by the Census and
Statistics Department during the year, approximately 17 percent of
employees worked 60 hours or more per week. The law stipulates that
employees are entitled to 12 days of statutory holidays and employers
must not make payment in lieu of granting holidays.
In September the government raised the wages for foreign domestic workers
(FDWs) from HK$3,920 ($506) per month to HK$4,010 ($517) per month for
all new contracts signed after October 1. The government also increased
the mandatory food allowance for FDWs working in homes where their
employers did not provide meals. Activists representing FDWs continued
raising concerns about the treatment of domestic workers and noted their
disappointment and anger over the 2.3 percent wage increase.
The government’s Standard Employment Contract requires employers to
provide foreign domestic workers with housing, worker’s compensation
insurance, travel allowances, and food or a food allowance in addition to
the minimum wage, which together provided a decent standard of living.
Foreign domestic workers could be deported if dismissed. After leaving
one employer, workers have two weeks to secure new employment before they
must leave the SAR. Activists contended this restriction left workers
vulnerable to a range of employers. Workers who pursued complaints
through legal channels could be granted leave to remain in the SAR but
could not work, leaving them either to live from savings or depend on
charitable assistance.
The government contended that the “two-week rule” was necessary to
maintain effective immigration control and prevent migrant workers from
overstaying and taking unauthorized work. Regarding maximum hours and
rest periods, the government stated that the rules on these issues cover
local and migrant workers. In its explanation of why live-in domestic
helpers (both local and foreign) would not be covered by the statutory
minimum wage, the government explained that “the
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distinctive working pattern--round-the-clock presence, provision of
service-on-demand, and the multifarious domestic duties expected of
live-in domestic workers--made it impossible to ascertain the actual
hours worked so as to determine the wages to be paid.”
Domestic workers were often required to live with their employers (who
did not always provide separate accommodation for the worker), which made
it difficult to enforce maximum working hours or overtime regulations.
They could also be subject to physical and verbal abuse, poor living and
working conditions, and limitations on freedom of movement.
During the first eight months of the year, the Labor Tribunal convicted
three employers on 13 counts of wage default, annual leave default, and
failure to pay awards in cases relating to the employment of foreign
domestic workers. From January to August, 96 foreign domestic workers
filed criminal suits, 42 of which were against employers, for
mistreatment including rape (four), indecent assault (24), and wounding
and serious assault (68).
In September a judge accused a couple of being “cruel” and “vicious” as
he sentenced them for subjecting their Indonesian domestic helper to two
years of abuse. The judge found the couple guilty of eight charges,
including wounding and assault causing bodily harm. He sentenced the man
to three years and three months in prison and his wife to five and
one-half years, as she had taken a greater role in the assaults.
Laws exist to provide for health and safety of workers in the workplace,
and these laws were effectively enforced.
The Occupational Safety and Health Branch of the Labor Department is
responsible for safety and health promotion, enforcement of safety
management legislation, and policy formulation and implementation. In the
first eight months of the year, the Labor Department conducted 80,581
workplace inspections and served 1,449 suspension/improvement notices.
During the same period, authorities levied fines totaling HK$10.3 million
($1.33 million) for 1,386 infractions identified through workplace
inspections.
In the first quarter of year, the Labor Department recorded 8,506
occupational injuries, including 2,607 classified as industrial
accidents. In the same period, there was one fatal industrial accident.
Employers are required to report any injuries sustained by their
employees in work-related accidents. Labor activists
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raised the issue of the increase in deadly industrial accidents, mainly
due to construction and infrastructure projects in the SAR.
No laws restrict work during typhoon or rainstorm warnings. Nevertheless,
the Labor Department issued a “code of practice” on work arrangements in
times of severe weather, which includes a recommendation that employers
require only essential staff to come to work during certain categories of
typhoon or rainstorm warnings. Both progovernment and pan-democratic
unions called for a review of protections for workers during inclement
weather, including legal protections.
MACAU 2013 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Macau is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic
of China (PRC) and enjoys a high degree of autonomy, except in defense
and foreign affairs, under the SAR’s constitution (the Basic Law). Chief
Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on took office in 2009, after his selection
by a 300-member Election Committee. Authorities maintained effective
control over the security forces. Security forces did not commit human
rights abuses.
Three prominent human rights abuses reported during the year were limits
on citizens’ ability to change their government, constraints on press
freedom, and failure to enforce fully laws regarding working conditions
and workplace abuses.
Trafficking in persons remained a problem, although authorities were
building capacity to pursue trafficking cases. There were concerns that
national security legislation, passed in 2009 in accordance with article
23 of the Basic Law, could compromise various civil liberties, but by
year’s end prosecutors had brought no cases based on the 2009
legislation.
The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed
abuses.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom
from:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed
arbitrary or unlawful killings.
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b. Disappearance
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that
government officials employed them.
There were five cases involving alleged police mistreatment in the first
half of the year. At the end of the year, the procuratorate was
investigating the cases. The Commission for Disciplinary Control of the
Security Forces and Services of Macau (CFD) received two complaints of
police mistreatment but dismissed both cases due to lack of evidence.
During the first half of 2013, the Commission against Corruption (CAC)
received three complaints of police mistreatment and determined the
complaints were legally unsubstantiated.
In the first half of the year, police received two complaints alleging
offenses committed by police officers against persons in custody. Police
transferred the cases to the procuratorate, which was considering the
cases at year’s end. The CFD received one complaint, which it deemed to
be unsubstantiated. The CAC received no complaints in the first half of
the year.
In the first half of 2013, police received one complaint that police
officers abused a person not in their custody. The case was transferred
to the procuratorate, where it remained pending. In the same period, the
CAC received four cases, one of which was referred to Macau Customs and
three were determined to be legally unsubstantiated. The CFD received no
allegations of assault by police officers against persons not in their
custody.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and detention center conditions generally met international
standards, and the government permitted monitoring visits by independent
human rights observers.
Physical Conditions: The SAR has a maximum prison capacity of 1,353
persons and a design capacity of 1,297, and the occupancy rate was
approximately 85 percent of the maximum capacity. In the first half of
the year, the number of
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inmates who were 16 (the age of criminal responsibility) and older was
1,156; of these, 968 were men and 188 women. Offenders between the ages
of 12 and 16 were subject to an “education regime,” which could include
incarceration depending on the offense. During the first half of the
year, authorities held 24 youths in the Youth Correctional Institution.
The government reported that one detainee died while in police custody.
The detainee died while attempting to escape a hospital at which he was
receiving medical treatment.
The SAR reported that prisoners had access to potable water.
Administration: The government’s recordkeeping procedures were adequate.
The government continued its use of alternative sentencing for nonviolent
offenders. Ombudsmen were able to serve prisoners and detainees.
Authorities allowed prisoners and detainees reasonable access to visitors
and permitted religious observance. The law allows prisoners and
detainees to submit complaints to judicial authorities without censorship
and to request investigation of alleged deficiencies, and judges and
prosecutors made monthly visits to prisons to hear prisoner complaints.
Independent Monitoring: According to the government, no independent human
rights observers requested or made any visit to the SAR’s only prison,
the Macau Prison. Judges and prosecutors visited the Macau Prison
monthly.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government
generally observed these prohibitions.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the Public
Security Police (general law enforcement) and Judiciary Police (criminal
investigations), and the government has effective mechanisms to
investigate and punish official abuse and corruption. There were no
reports of impunity involving the security forces.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
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Authorities detained persons openly with warrants issued by a duly
authorized official based on sufficient evidence. Detainees were allowed
access to a lawyer of their choice or, if indigent, to one provided by
the government. Detainees were allowed prompt access to family members.
Police must present persons in custody to an examining judge within 48
hours of detention. The examining judge, who conducts a pretrial inquiry
in criminal cases, has wide powers to collect evidence, order or dismiss
indictments, and determine whether to release detained persons. According
to the government, courts should try defendants within the “shortest
period of time.” The procuratorate’s investigations should end with
charges or dismissal within eight months, or six months when the
defendants are in detention; the pretrial inquiry stage must be concluded
within four months, two months if the defendants are detained. By law the
maximum limits for pretrial detention range from six months to three
years, depending on the charges and progress of the judicial process.
Judges often refused bail in cases where sentences could exceed three
years.
In 2012 law enforcement officials received three complaints accusing
police officers of offenses toward persons in custody in the first half
of the year. Officials brought disciplinary proceedings against the
officers in both cases. One case was closed, and one awaited the
initiation of criminal proceedings at year’s end. There was one complaint
in the first half of the year that a police officer assaulted a person in
custody.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government
generally respected judicial independence.
The courts may rule on matters that are the responsibility of the PRC
government or concern the relationship between central authorities and
the SAR, but before making their final judgment, which is not subject to
appeal, the courts must seek an interpretation of the relevant provisions
from the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. When the
standing committee makes an interpretation of the provisions concerned,
the courts, in applying those provisions, “shall follow the
interpretation of the standing committee.”
Trial Procedures
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The law provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent
judiciary generally enforced this right. A case may be presided over by
one judge or a group of judges, depending on the type of crime and the
maximum penalty involved.
Under the law defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, have access to
government-held evidence relevant to their cases, and have a right to
appeal. The law provides that trials are to be public and by jury except
when the court rules otherwise to “safeguard the dignity of persons,
public morality, or to ensure the normal functioning of the court.”
Defendants have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the
charges (with free interpretation), be present at their trials, confront
witnesses, have adequate time to prepare a defense, not be compelled to
testify or confess guilt, and consult with an attorney in a timely
manner. Public attorneys are provided for those who are financially
incapable of engaging lawyers or paying expenses of proceedings. The law
extends these rights to all residents.
The judiciary provided citizens with a fair and efficient judicial
process; however, due to an overloaded court system, a period of up to a
year often passed between the filing of a civil case and its scheduled
hearing. Contacts also noted lack of capacity delayed some criminal
cases.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
There is an independent and impartial judiciary for civil matters, and
citizens have access to a court to bring lawsuits seeking damages for, or
cessation of, a human rights violation.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected
these prohibitions. The Office for Personal Data Protection acknowledged
a continuing increase in complaints and inquiries regarding data
protection.
Activists critical of the government reported the government monitored
their phone conversations.
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Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The law provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government
generally respected these rights.
The law criminalizes treason, secession, subversion of the PRC
government, and theft of “state secrets,” as well as “acts in
preparation” to commit these offenses. The crimes of treason, secession,
and subversion specifically require the use of violence, and the
government stated that the law would not be used to infringe on peaceful
political activism or media freedom.
Press Freedoms: The independent media were active and expressed a wide
range of views, and international media operated freely. Major newspapers
were heavily subsidized by the government and tended to follow closely
the PRC government’s policy on sensitive political issues, such as
Taiwan; however, they generally reported freely on the SAR, including
criticism of the government.
Violence and Harassment: Some journalists who wrote disparagingly of the
government complained about disciplinary actions, such as temporary
suspension, delayed promotion, and assignments covering less important
stories.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: Activists raised concerns over media
self-censorship, particularly because news outlets and journalists
worried that certain types of critical coverage might limit government
funding. Activists also reported that the government had co-opted senior
media managers to serve in various consultative or election committees,
which also resulted in self-censorship. Journalists expressed concern
that the government’s limiting of news releases about its own activities
and its publishing of legal notices only in preferred media outlets
influenced editorial content.
Internet Freedom
There were no government restrictions on access to the internet or
reports that the government monitored e-mail or internet chat rooms.
As of July 2012, according to the Statistics and Census Service, there
were 243,196 internet subscribers in a population of 591,900. This total
did not take
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into account multiple internet users for one subscription, nor did it
factor in those who have access to the internet through mobile devices.
The law criminalizes a range of cybercrimes and empowers police, with a
court warrant, to order internet service providers to retain and then
provide a range of data. Some legislators expressed concern that the law
granted police the authority to take these actions without a court order
under some circumstances.
The media reported that several websites, among them Facebook, YouTube,
and Skype, which were blocked on the mainland, also were blocked on the
government-provided free WiFi service. The government denied any
intention to restrict access, stating that the main problem was available
bandwidth and pointing out that the mobile version of Facebook was
available. Twitter, which was banned on the mainland, was available on
the service. Activists reported they freely used Facebook and Twitter to
communicate. However, activists also reported that the government had
installed enterprise-grade software capable of censoring, decrypting, and
scanning secured transmissions on its free WiFi service without notifying
users.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural
events. One academic noted government pressure to delay an academic
conference due to political sensitivities.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of Assembly
The law provides for freedom of assembly, and the government generally
respected this right. The law requires prior notification, but not
approval, of demonstrations that involve the use of public roads, public
places, or places open to the public. In cases in which authorities tried
to restrict access to public venues for demonstrations or other public
events, the courts generally ruled in favor of the applicants. Police may
redirect march routes, and organizers have the right to challenge such
decisions in court.
Activists reported that police routinely attempted to intimidate
demonstrators by ostentatiously taking videos of them and advising
bystanders not to participate in protests. Activists also stated that
authorities gave orders to demonstrators
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verbally rather than through written communication, which made it
difficult to challenge their decisions in court. In June law enforcement
officials arrested six demonstrators amid scuffles with police during a
protest against a top Macau government official. The Court of Final
Appeal later ruled that the police acted inappropriately in detaining the
demonstrators.
Following a May 6 rally protesting nontransparent subsidies from the
government to certain civil society organizations, the Macau Workers
Self-Support Association criticized the police for preventing 200 elderly
protestors from participating. Law enforcement officials claimed
activists wanted to march in an unapproved area, while participants
claimed the police had already approved their protest route.
On June 4, approximately 500 persons participated in a vigil to remember
the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Freedom of Association
The Basic Law and the civil code provide for freedom of association. No
authorization is required to form an association, and the only
restrictions are that the organization not promote racial discrimination,
violence, crime, or disruption of public order, or be military or
paramilitary in nature.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at
www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of
Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel,
emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected
these rights. The Immigration Department cooperated with the Office of
the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian
organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally
displaced persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers,
stateless persons, and other persons of concern.
The Internal Security Law grants police the authority to deny entry to or
deport nonresidents whom they regard under the law as unwelcome, as a
threat to internal security and stability, or as possibly implicated in
transnational crimes.
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In January the government for the second time barred Hong Kong
Legislative Council member Lee Cheuk-yan, a prominent labor leader, from
entering the SAR. The government maintained that the commander of the
Public Security Police “based on the public interest…may refuse entry of
any nonresident whose status is found to be inappropriate.”
Protection of Refugees
Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee
status, and the government has established a system for providing
protection to refugees. In theory persons granted refugee status would
ultimately enjoy the same rights as other SAR residents. However, the
UNHCR reported that the SAR had not granted any asylum seekers refugee
status at year’s end. Pending eventual final decisions on their asylum
claims, the government registered asylum seekers and provided protection
against their expulsion or return to their countries of origin. Persons
with pending applications were eligible to receive government support,
including basic needs such as housing, medical care, and education for
children.
The government has the responsibility to conduct refugee status
determinations, but this process remained stalled during the year,
according to the UNHCR. Four applications for refugee status were
pending, but their determination would likely take several years to
process. One Afghan asylum seeker was in his 10th year of waiting.
Authorities maintained that these cases remained active, but the head of
Macau’s Refugee Commission made clear that resource shortages and other
priorities prevented quick resolution of these cases.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change
Their Government
The law limits citizens’ ability to change their government. Only a small
fraction of citizens play a role in the selection of the chief executive,
who was chosen in 2009 by a 300-member Election Committee consisting of
254 members elected from four broad societal sectors (which have a
limited franchise) and 46 members chosen from among the SAR’s legislators
and representatives to the NPC and Chinese People’s Political
Consultative Conference.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: The most recent election was held on September 15 for
the 14 directly elected seats in the 33-member Legislative Assembly. A
total of 145
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candidates on 20 electoral lists competed for the seats. The election was
generally free and fair.
Observers noted that wealthy candidates sponsored banquets, entertainment
events, and transportation for supporters. The prosecutor general said
his office investigated 10 cases of election bribery. Police arrested two
individuals for offering illegal “incentives” to voters and detained 14
voters for further investigation for voting irregularities.
Two prodemocracy candidates reported that the government censored their
public election platform, which called for an allegedly tainted top
official to resign and an investigation of a potentially corrupt business
deal brokered by the former chief executive.
There are limits on the types of bills that legislators may introduce.
The law stipulates that legislators may not initiate legislation related
to public expenditure, the SAR’s political structure, or the operation of
the government. Proposed legislation related to government policies must
receive the chief executive’s written approval before it is introduced.
The Legislative Assembly also has no power of confirmation over executive
or judicial appointments.
A 10-member Executive Council functions as an unofficial cabinet,
approving draft legislation before it is presented in the Legislative
Assembly. The Basic Law stipulates that the chief executive appoint
members of the Executive Council from among the principal officials of
the executive authorities, members of the legislature, and public
figures.
Political Parties: The SAR has no laws on political parties. Politically
active groups therefore registered as societies or companies. These
groups were active in promoting their political agendas, and those
critical of the government generally did not face restrictions. Such
groups participated in protests over government policies or proposed
legislation without restriction.
Participation of Women and Minorities: There were seven women in the
33-member Legislative Assembly. Women also held a number of senior
positions throughout the government, including the secretary for justice
and administration, the second-highest official in the SAR government.
The Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau stated that women made
up 41 percent of the SAR government, 48 percent of the judiciary, and 58
percent of the senior staff of the Legislative Assembly. One Executive
Council member was from an ethnic
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minority, as was the police commissioner general. As of June, 31 female
judges worked in the judiciary.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and there
were few reported instances of officials engaging in corruption.
Corruption: The CAC investigated the public and private sectors and had
the power to arrest and detain suspects. The Ombudsman Bureau within the
CAC reviewed complaints of maladministration or abuse by the CAC. There
was also an independent committee outside the CAC, called the Monitoring
Committee on Discipline of CAC Personnel, which accepted and reviewed
complaints about CAC personnel.
Whistleblower Protection: Macau does not have specific whistleblower
protection laws in effect for public and private employees.
Financial Disclosure: By law the chief executive, his cabinet, judges,
members of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council, and executive
agency directors are required to disclose their financial interests upon
appointment, promotion, and retirement and at five-year intervals while
in the same position.
Public Access to Information: The law does not provide for public access
to government information. Nevertheless, the executive branch published
online, in both Portuguese and Chinese, extensive information on laws,
regulations, ordinances, government policies and procedures, and
biographies of government principal officials. The government also issued
a daily press release on topics of public concern. The information
provided by the legislature was less extensive.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international groups monitoring human rights
generally operated without government restriction, investigating and
publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials
often were cooperative and responsive to their views.
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The law stipulates that residents shall be free from discrimination based
on race, gender, disability, language, or social status, and many laws
carry specific prohibitions against discrimination. The government
effectively enforced the law. The law does not address discrimination
based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Women
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal
rape, and the government effectively enforced the law. In the first half
of 2012, police received nine complaints of rape. Police and courts acted
promptly on rape cases, arresting four individuals accused of rape.
Although there is not a specific law on domestic violence, laws that
criminalize the relevant behaviors, including “mistreatment of minors or
spouses,” were used effectively by the government to prosecute domestic
violence. Various NGOs and government officials considered domestic
violence against women to be a growing problem. Domestic violence falls
under several crimes in the criminal code, including the crime of
mistreatment of minors, persons with incapacity, or spouses. These crimes
are punishable with imprisonment ranging from one to five years. If
mistreatment leads to serious physical injuries or death of the victim,
the penalties may be increased to imprisonment of two to eight years in
cases involving physical injury and five to 15 years in those resulting
in death. During the first half of the year, 164 complaints of crimes
related to domestic violence were reported to police. Of these, 116
involved spousal abuse.
The government made referrals for victims to receive medical treatment,
and medical social workers counseled victims and informed them of social
welfare services. During the first half of the year, the Social Welfare
Bureau handled 29 domestic violence cases. The government funded NGOs to
provide victim support services, including medical services, family
counseling, and housing, until their complaints were resolved. The
government also supported two 24-hour hotlines, one for counseling and
the other for reporting domestic violence cases.
NGOs and religious groups sponsored programs for victims of domestic
violence, and the government supported and helped fund these
organizations and programs. The Bureau for Family Action, a government
organization subordinate to the Department of Family and Community of the
Social Welfare Institute, helped female victims of domestic violence by
providing a safe place for them and their children as well as advice
regarding legal actions against perpetrators. A range of
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counseling services was available to persons who requested them at social
service centers. Two government-supported religious programs also offered
rehabilitation programs for female victims of violence.
Sexual Harassment: There is no law specifically addressing sexual
harassment, unless it involves the use of a position of authority to
coerce the performance of physical acts. Harassment in general is
prohibited under laws governing equal opportunity, employment and labor
rights, and labor relations. In 2012 there were no complaints of
discrimination filed with police, the Public Administration and Civil
Service Bureau, or the Labor Affairs Bureau (LAB) in the first half of
the year.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the
number, spacing, and timing of their children as well as the information
and means to do so free from discrimination or coercion. Access to
contraception and prenatal care was widely available, as was skilled
attendance at delivery and postpartum care.
Discrimination: Equal opportunity legislation mandates that women receive
equal pay for equal work. Discrimination in hiring practices based on
gender or physical ability is prohibited by law, and penalties exist for
employers who violate these guidelines. The law allows for civil suits,
but few women took cases to the LAB or other entities. In 2013 no
complaints of discrimination were filed with police, the LAB, or the CAC.
Gender differences in occupation existed, with women concentrated in
lower-paid sectors and lower level jobs. Observers estimated that there
was a significant difference in salary between men and women,
particularly in unskilled jobs.
Children
Birth Registration: In accordance with the Basic Law, children of Chinese
national residents of Macau born in or outside the SAR and children born
to non-Chinese national permanent residents inside the SAR are regarded
as permanent residents. There is no differentiation between these
categories in terms of access to registration of birth. Most births were
registered immediately.
Forced and Early Marriage: The minimum age of marriage is 16. Children
between the age of 16 and 18 who wish to get married must get approval
from their parents or guardians.
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Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law specifically provides for
criminal punishment for sexual abuse of children and students, statutory
rape, and procurement involving minors. The criminal code sets 14 as the
age of sexual consent and 16 as the age for participation in the legal
sex trade. Child pornography is prohibited by law. During the first half
of the year, there were two complaints of sexual abuse of children, one
complaint of sexual intercourse with a minor, and eight complaints of
sexual acts with minors filed with police. Law enforcement authorities
arrested one individual for sexual abuse of children, one individual for
sexual intercourse with a minor, and six individuals for sexual acts with
minors. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern
that “child sex tourism remains a serious problem in Macau SAR, and that
alleged complicity of government officials in trafficking and sexual
exploitation related offences has led to impunity for such crimes.” The
government denied the allegations.
International Child Abductions: The SAR is a party to the 1980 Hague
Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Anti-Semitism
The Jewish population was extremely small, and there were no reports of
anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at
www.state.gov/j/tip.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory,
intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to
health care, or the provision of other state services, and the government
generally enforced these provisions in practice. The law mandates access
to buildings, public facilities, information, and communications for
persons with disabilities. The government enforced the law effectively.
The government built and reconstructed public facilities such as the
ferry terminal and overpasses, which are accessible to persons with
disabilities. Spaces on new buses accommodated passengers with
wheelchairs. The Social Welfare Institute was primarily responsible for
coordinating and funding public assistance programs to persons
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with disabilities. There was a governmental commission to rehabilitate
persons with disabilities, with part of the commission’s scope of work
addressing employment. There were no reports of children with
disabilities encountering obstacles to attending school.
Highlighting a severe shortage in resources in mainstream schools to
assist children with learning disabilities, parents called on the
government to open an exclusive school for children with learning
disabilities. Activists said the government failed to provide a “friendly
environment” for persons with vision disabilities and petitioned the
government to provide space for an education center that would provide
job and living assistance. One activist with vision disabilities
unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the Legislative Assembly in the
September elections.
National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Although the government has made efforts to address the complaints of
individuals of Portuguese descent and the Macanese minority, members of
these two groups continued to claim they were not treated equally by the
Chinese majority. While they participated in political and cultural
circles, some activists claimed businesses refused to hire employees who
were not ethnically Chinese.
Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity
There are no laws criminalizing sexual orientation and no prohibition
against LGBT persons forming organizations or associations. There were no
reports of violence against persons based on their sexual orientation.
The Legislative Assembly, dominated by progovernment members, almost
unanimously defeated a bill proposed by a prodemocracy member that would
have granted same-sex couples the right to form civil unions and claim
the same social benefits as heterosexual couples. A pro-Beijing newspaper
publicly denounced one pro-LGBT rights activist as being “morally unfit”
to participate in public life.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS and limits
the number of required disclosures of an individual’s HIV status.
Employees outside medical fields are not required to declare their status
to employers. There were
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anecdotal reports that persons whose status became known, as well as
organizations supporting them, faced some forms of discrimination. There
were no reported incidents of violence against persons with HIV/AIDS.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law, including related regulations and statutory instruments,
provides workers the right to form and join unions or “labor
associations” of their choice without previous authorization or excessive
requirements. In order to register as an official union, the government
requires an organization to provide the names and personal information of
its leadership structure. There is no law specifically defining the
status and function of labor unions, nor are employers compelled to
negotiate with them. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, stating
that employees or job seekers shall not be prejudiced, deprived of any
rights, or exempted from any duties on the basis of their membership in
an association. The Labor Relations Law does not have provisions for
reinstating workers dismissed for union activity.
Workers in certain professions, such as the security forces, are
forbidden to form unions, take part in protests, or strike. Such groups
had organizations that provided welfare and other services to members and
that could speak to the government on behalf of their members. Vulnerable
groups of workers, including domestic workers and migrant workers, could
freely associate and form and join unions, as could public servants.
Part-time employees did not have this right.
Workers have the right to strike according to article 27 of the Basic
Law, but there is no specific protection in the law from retribution if
workers exercise this right. The government asserted that striking
employees are protected from retaliation by provisions of the law that
require an employer to have justified cause to dismiss an employee.
The law provides that agreements between employers and workers shall be
valid, but there is no specific statutory provision giving workers,
resident or foreign, the right to collective bargaining. Independent
lawmakers continued to push the government to introduce a trade union and
collective bargaining law.
The law imposes penalties ranging from Macau patacas (MOP) 20,000 to
50,000 ($2,500 to 6,300) for antiunion discrimination. Observers note
that this may not be sufficient to deter discriminatory activity.
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Workers who believed they were dismissed unlawfully could bring a case to
court or lodge a complaint with the Labor Department or the CAC, which
also has an Ombudsman Bureau that handles complaints over administrative
illegalities. The bureau made recommendations to the relevant government
departments after its investigation. The Labor Relations Law is not
applicable to civil servants. The Macau Civil Servants Association
claimed that many of its members suffered from discrimination for
belonging to a union.
There were no strikes during the year. Although strikes, rallies, and
demonstrations were not permitted in the vicinity of the chief
executive’s office, the Legislative Assembly, and other key government
buildings, some protests occurred near government headquarters. On May 1,
a group of 2,000 individuals demanded universal suffrage, a minimum wage,
and protections for Macanese from imported workers. On August 23, 10 real
estate agents gathered near government headquarters to ask the government
to provide exemptions allowing them to conduct business in residential as
well as commercial buildings. On October 11, 3,000 casino brokers
protested near government headquarters to demand legal protections
against imported labor.
The government did not respond to official complaints on working
conditions or abuse, nor did the government punish employers that
withheld pay as a form of reprisal when employees made such complaints.
In addition, the LAB could charge the union a fee to process such
complaints. Union leaders also claimed that the government maintained a
“blacklist” of labor “agitators.”
Even without formal collective bargaining rights, companies often
negotiated with unions, although the government regularly acted as an
intermediary. Pro-PRC unions traditionally have not attempted to engage
in collective bargaining. The Macau Federation of Trade Unions acts as an
adviser and assistant to those filing complaints to the Labor Affairs
Bureau, which is responsible for adjudicating labor disputes.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor. Penalties ranged from three
to 12 years with the minimum and maximum sentences increased by one-third
if the victim is under the age of 14.
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There were no reports that such practices occurred. However, some
conditions increased vulnerability of migrants to forced labor (see
section 7. d. Acceptable Conditions of Work).
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
A chief executive’s order prohibits minors under the age of 16 from
working, although minors between 14 and 16 can be authorized to work in
“exceptional circumstances” if they obtain a health certificate to prove
they have the “necessary robust physique to engage in a professional
activity.” The decree does not define “exceptional circumstances.” Local
laws do not establish specific regulations governing the number of hours
children under 16 can work. The law governing the number of working hours
(eight hours a day, 40 hours a week) was equally applicable to adults and
legal working minors, but the law prohibits minors from working overtime
hours.
Minors under 16 are forbidden from certain types of work, including but
not limited to domestic work, any employment between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00
a.m., and at places where admission of minors is forbidden. Employers are
required to conduct an assessment of the nature, extent, and duration of
risk exposure at work before commencing labor relations.
The Labor Department enforced the law through periodic and targeted
inspections, and violators were prosecuted. Employers are also obligated
to provide professional training and working conditions appropriate to a
minor’s age to prevent situations that undermine his/her education and
that can endanger his/her health, safety, and physical and mental
development. Information on the penalties for violations was not
available.
Some children reportedly worked in family-operated or small businesses
(see section 6, Children).
d. Acceptable Conditions of Work
Local labor laws establish the general principle of fair wages and
mandate compliance with wage agreements. There is no mandatory minimum
wage except for government-outsourced security guards and cleaners and
foreign domestic workers at MOP 26 per hour ($3.26). The law also sets
maximum hours, rest days, statutory holidays, and premium pay rules.
Local law requires employers provide equal pay for equal work, regardless
of gender. The law includes a requirement
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Labor
that employers provide a safe working environment. The Labor Affairs
Bureau is responsible for setting and enforcing standards for
occupational safety and health.
Labor legislation provides for a 48-hour workweek (many businesses
operated on a 40-hour workweek), an eight-hour workday, paid overtime,
annual leave, and medical and maternity care. The law provides for a
24-hour rest period each week. All local workers, whether under a term
contract or an indefinite contract, are entitled to such benefits as
specified working hours, weekly leave, statutory holidays, annual leave,
and sick leave.
Local custom favored unwritten labor contracts of indefinite duration,
except in the case of migrant workers, who were issued written contracts
for specified terms. The law does not define “temporary contract” or
“short-term contract.” It states only that a labor contract may be either
for a defined term or of indefinite duration. Labor groups reported that
employers increasingly used temporary contracts to circumvent obligations
to pay for worker benefits such as pensions, sick leave, and paid
holidays. The short-term nature of the written contracts made it easier
to dismiss workers through nonrenewal. The Labor Relations Law covers
short-term contract workers but not part-time or domestic workers.
Under the law migrant workers enjoy treatment equal to that of local
workers, including the same rights, obligations, and remuneration. All
workers, including migrants, have access to the courts in cases of
unlawful dismissal, if an employer fails to pay compensation, or a worker
believes that his/her legitimate interests have been violated. Employers
can dismiss staff “without just cause” provided that they provide
economic compensation, indexed to an employee’s length of service.
The Labor Department provided assistance and legal advice to workers upon
request, and cases of labor-related malpractices are referred to the LAB.
Data on the number of cases assisted by LAB was not available.
The Labor Department also enforced occupational safety and health
regulations, and failure to correct infractions could lead to
prosecution. The Health Bureau released guidelines that protect pregnant
workers, and those with heart and lung diseases, from exposure to
secondhand smoke by exempting them from work in smoking areas. Workers’
associations expressed hope that this would protect workers from
dismissal for refusing to work in unhealthy environments.
According to official statistics, at the end of July 2012, there were
122,105 nonresident workers, who accounted for approximately 21 percent
of the
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population. They came mostly from the mainland PRC, Hong Kong, Indonesia,
the Philippines, and Vietnam. Most of them worked in the restaurant and
hotel industry, but others found employment as domestic servants, in the
gaming and entertainment sectors, or in construction and retail trade.
They often complained of discrimination in the workplace.
Nonresident worker associations and the International Labor Organization
expressed concern about the Law on the Employment of Nonresident Workers,
which requires foreign workers who left their jobs for any cause not held
to be just to depart the SAR for six months before they could start new
employment. Labor officials responded that the law, meant to deter “job
hopping,” was not implemented if a worker could demonstrate a just cause,
such as abuse, nonpayment of wages, or contract violation, for wishing to
terminate a contract. The lack of coordination between the LAB, which
handled complaints, and the Immigration Department meant that workers
filing complaints could be dismissed, deprived of their immigration
status, and forced to depart before their complaints could be resolved.
Some observers noted that this could deter migrant workers from reporting
conditions of labor exploitation or forced labor.
In January an association of casino workers petitioned for healthier
working conditions by requesting that limits on smoking at casino tables
be better implemented to protect workers’ health and that a timeline be
put in place for imposing a complete smoking ban in casinos. The same
organization also raised complaints with the LAB regarding employers who
failed to provide insurance for casino workers injured while working
during a typhoon.

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