Although detaining a person without disclosing whereabouts or providing legal support should be illegal, it is approved by law in China.
Since 2012, police, after changes to Chinese criminal law, have the right to detain anyone, whether foreign or Chinese, for up to six months at a designated location. It can be done without disclosing the person’s whereabouts.
The inhumane system, which is called ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’ (RSDL), has been criticised by a human rights group. It has claimed immense torture in this secret detention system.
Safeguard Defenders, a Spain-based rights group, has said that around 27,208 to 56,963 people have gone through RSDL system in China since its introduction in 2013. It has cited data provided by Supreme People’s Court and the testimony of several survivors and lawyers.
Michael Caster, co-founder, rights watchdog Safeguard Defenders, said around 10,000 to 15,000 went through the system in 2020, which is up from just 500 in 2013.
There’s no transparency in this system, rued Caster.
In a similar parallel system known as liuzhi, state employees, Communist Party members and others in “public affairs” can be held.
In both RSDL and liuzhi, inmates face torture and are arrested without a right to legal counsel.
The detainees are allegedly subjected to isolation, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, beatings and forced stress positions in both systems.
(With inputs from agencies)