April 15, 2006

Day 51: Police give Nina the run-around

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 10:45 am

On Thursday April 13th Nina made a renewed attempt to get answers from the police about her brother. Reading the following entry titled “Doubts,” it seems like each time she goes to see the police, the run-around gets worse:

It’s just the opposite from when I returned to Shanghai. Last night, it was raining gently in Shanghai until the early morning, and when I arrived in Beijing, the breath of springtime sunlight against my cheek was enough to make me tremble. I was only gone for one week, but spring launched a surprise attack and occupied Beijing. The willows by the road are uniform and pensive green; the peach blossoms are surprisingly gorgeous.

Practicing T’ai Chi in daily life improves one’s health and character, but when governmental organs use Tai Chi to do their business it’s extremely vexing. The attorney’s letter we went to the city Public Security Bureau was forwarded to the Chaoyang branch office. They claimed that they had yet to find a Hao Wu among their detainees. Even contacting the Jianwai Police Station failed to get results. We couldn’t even ascertain who was assisting the city bureau to investigate the case. It was all excuses! I have met officers from the city bureau and the Chaoyang branch office who know that the Beijing city PSB National Security Unit is responsible for the case. They could hint at the related internal organs of the PSB, but still claim they don’t know? I remember the first time I went to the Beijing PSB petition office, before they understood the situation they found the officer responsible after just a few phone calls. Now these same organs still don’t know anything new after over ten working days? If they go after murderers and thieves with this kind of efficiency, then real bad people must be enjoying their free and unfettered lives, without any worry of suffering legal punishment.

Last Wednesday the nameless police officer that I met warned me to “follow legal channels” to solve the problem. I don’t know where my current actions have overstepped the rights granted me by law. The materials I’ve delivered to each bureau have disappeared like stones into the sea. The receptionists of corresponding work units shift responsibility onto one another. As an ordinary Chinese person, it is depressing. Although the provisions of relevant laws and regulations set the rights of suspects, when you actually do things according to law you discover that you are facing a black hole. Don’t hope for any response. Can you sue them for “negligence”? Can you sue them for knowing the law but not implementing it? The result is that perhaps they investigate themselves, judge themselves, and it ends there. Sigh. There is law, but it is hard to rely on.

The Code of Criminal Procedure has strict conditions and procedural regulations on all kinds of coercive measures, but one sentence—“Unless it obstructs investigation or there is no way to notify under the circumstances”—obliterates all interpretation and execution of the law. As long as the relevant organs and employees have the greatest level of “freedom” and “power,” they can claim “obstruction of investigation” and avoid the restrictions of these laws and regulations anytime, anyplace. Perhaps a case might not actually have any elements that would obstruct investigation, but the case will still be placed in the gray area of “special” legal handling. Can’t the practical conditions of “exceptions” be detailed in the law…to limit the potential for abuse? Everyone is equal before the law. Think about the helplessness and weakness of suspects and their family members in the face of “exceptions.” Can’t this be changed?

I asked all the “calm” police officers the same question: “Have you ever had a family member suddenly taken away, without knowing why or where they were taken?” No one could answer positively. Really, not one. I think that not one of them has ever experienced this kind of pain.

I was also informed that I should quietly wait for the “organization” to tell me the final outcome. What is the meaning of this “organization”? The courts? The Procuratorate? The Public Security Bureau? Or the government of the city we live in? They couldn’t tell me.

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