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Authors: Jackson, Kaylyn
Advisors: Scheppele, Kim
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2013
Abstract: In recent years, China has had a mixed record on human rights and legal protections. While professing commitments to human rights and making some legal improvements, China has also repeatedly abused laws and violated human rights protections through crackdowns on activists and dissidents. In 2012, the Chinese government made amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) and issued a new Human Rights Action Plan. On the other hand, in 2012 and 2013, Chinese officials also increasingly cracked down on lawyers, human rights activists, and religious practitioners. Considered threats to the stability of Chinese society and to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), these three groups have been the victims of both quasi-legal and extra-legal mechanisms of repression. Through ambiguous and flexible legal provisions, security officials have the discretion to crack down on lawyers through the Law on Lawyers, on religious practitioners through the Regulations on Religious Affairs (RRA), and on activists in general through the Criminal Law. I investigated whether the different legal provisions used to crack down on lawyers, activists, and religious practitioners translate into differences in the treatment of these three groups by security officials. In addition, I also examined whether security officials treat well-known members of these groups differently than lesser-known members of the groups. I used U.S. government databases and reports, news articles on current events in China, and updates by NGOs working in China to research the treatment of members of the three groups. Overall, I found that lawyers, activists, and religious practitioners in China have faced similar treatment by security officials. In addition to arbitrary detention and restrictions on their freedoms of movement and association, all three groups, including both well-known and less well-known members of each group, have been victims of the policy of collective responsibility, whereby security officials target the friends and relatives of dissidents. Prominent activists are more often detained in secret and are detained for longer periods of time than less-prominent activists. Also, although the time periods of detention differ, both well-known and lesser-known lawyers have had their legal licenses suspended and have been accused of the highest crimes. In order to respond to these issues, I propose both general recommendations applicable to all three groups as well as specific recommendations based on the particular situation of each group. In general, the United States should encourage China to ratify and implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; negotiate for the release of political prisoners; publicize the problem of collective responsibility and encourage China to reign in the discretion of security officials; denounce the 2012 amendments to the CPL and the 2012 Human Rights Action Plan as steps backward in human rights; participate fully in the 2013 UN Universal Periodic Review of China; and expand the involvement of U.S.-based NGOs in China. In order to aid each specific group, the United States should expand U.S.-China lawyer exchanges; advocate for amendments to the Law on Lawyers; denounce the criminalization of Tibetan Buddhist self-immolators and supporters; support changes to the RRA to allow independent religious organizations; promote Internet freedom and the freedom of expression; and criticize the use of preemptive detentions.
Extent: 137 pages
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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