Ten individuals were sentenced to prison for illegally operating “black jails” in China.
The men were reportedly hired by the local government to detain those who had come to Beijing to lodge complains. According to The Christian Science Monitor, the sentencing is the first step taken by China to crack down on extralegal detention of its citizens.
The men involved in illegally detaining these people will spend between six months and two years behind bars for their crimes. Although the government is attempting to shut down these “black jails,” one woman who was detained by the men said those who are actually responsible will not have to answer for their crimes.
Sang Shuling told the website:
“The men behind the case were not even charged. The representatives in Beijing of the Chang Ge city government were the ones responsible, but the court said the case had nothing to do with our local government.”
Al Jazeera reports that 11 petitioners were rounded up and held in a courtyard in Beijing back in April of 2012. The 10 individuals who held these people against their will have been ordered to pay compensation for the time they spent being held against their will.
The Chinese government has described “black jails” as a gross abuse of power. Steps are also being made to crack down on those who are illegally detaining petitioners.
City University of Hong Kong Professor Joseph Cheng told the website:
“This certainly does not go to the root of the problem, because what is lacking is democracy and checks and balances at the local level, so that the local government understand that they have to observe the law and respect the rights of the people.”
China’s willingness to publicize the sentencing seems to indicate that the government is interested in reining things in on a local level. However, it appears that officials have a long way to go before “black jails” are shut down entirely.