Posts Tagged ‘Michael Spavor’

China and its willingness to detain anyone anytime should generate more reaction

January 4, 2019

Michael Caster, human rights advocate and author of The People’s Republic of the Disappeared, is co-founder of the human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders. He wrote in the Guardian of Friday 4 January 2019 “China thinks it can arbitrarily detain anyone. It is time for change”

Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, has called China’s detention of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor a “worrying precedent” but for many China watchers it is all too familiar. It reminds us of the detentions of other foreign citizens, such as Canadian Kevin Garratt, Briton Peter Humphrey, Sweden’s Gui Minhai, or Taiwanese Lee Ming-che, and that over the years China has institutionalised arbitrary and secret detention affecting innumerable Chinese citizens, and with little international consequence. China feels emboldened to place literally anyone under arbitrary and secret detention, regardless of citizenship. It is now long overdue for the world to stand up. While Kovrig and Spavor have been granted consular access, it is reportedly limited to one visit a month. Consular access, like access to a lawyer, is a procedural safeguard against abuse in custody. In China, where abuse in custody, especially in the first few weeks of detention, is well documented, the importance of consular or legal access cannot be over emphasised. There are reports Kovrig is being denied access to a lawyer.

China routinely denies such fundamental rights through its system for arbitrary and secret detention. This includes residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL) [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/10/more-on-residential-surveillance-in-a-designated-location-rsdl-in-china/]….

Canadian Michael Spavor
Pinterest Canadian Michael Spavor is one of the latest victim of China’s system of arbitrary detention. Photograph: AP

…Conditions are less severe for foreigners than for Chinese citizens, but they are never free from abuse. Sadly, reports indicate Kovrig is being interrogated morning, noon, and night, and subjected to sleep deprivation. Because of such abuse, the United Nations committee against torture, as early as 2016, called on China, as a matter of urgency, to repeal domestic provisions allowing for RSDL and other forms of secret detention. Earlier this year, human rights groups Safeguard Defenders, the International Service for Human Rights, Network for Chinese Human Rights Defenders, and Rights Practice sent a submission on RSDL to the UN. In their response, experts from the Human Rights Council noted that RSDL exposes its victims to torture and that exceptions in the law make it tantamount to an enforced disappearance, grave crimes under international law.

…..In each case where China has not been held accountable, it virtually guarantees the next.

Any country that systematically denies the rights of its own citizens, and flaunts international norms, should worry us all because such abuses, as we are increasingly seeing, don’t stop at the colour of one’s passport. That China has now arbitrarily detained several Canadian citizens in thuggish pursuit of Communist party interests should clearly be denounced, and their immediate release demanded, but it should surprise no one considering China has institutionalised just this type of abusive behaviour with effectively no international repercussions. It is time for change.

And then there is the remarkable reaction by the same Government when it concerns a Chinese citizen as in the case of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/06/chinese-government-quote-of-the-year/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/04/china-thinks-it-can-arbitrarily-detain-anyone-it-is-time-for-change