China’s rule of law pledge rings hollow

chinacongressBeijing’s promises of progress toward rule of law ring hollow in light of the recently announced investigation of former security chief Zhou Yongkang, legal scholar Jerome Cohen writes for South China Morning Post:

Party leaders and their legal advisers have been struggling with the problem of how to achieve the rule of law for many years. Now, they claim, the fourth plenum will “provide a road map” that will “flesh out” the goals set forth in the decision so that, as the former director of research at the Supreme People’s Court recently stated, “you can both ‘see and feel’ the rule of law”.

[…] Many people inside and outside China, however, understand the Zhou case as an immediate, living refutation of the rule of law principles that the party is currently touting to the country and the world. If indeed there is now “equal justice”, they ask, why is it that many other leaders suspected of corrupt relations are also not being subjected to confinement and investigation in accordance with the party’s frightening shuanggui procedures? How can those disciplinary inspection procedures – the customary prerequisite to criminal prosecution of party members – possibly be consistent with the constitution and the Criminal Procedure Law? [As Donald Clarke has noted, shuanggui has no legal foundation—perhaps deliberately.]

[…] Of course, it must be said that these are extraordinary political cases and cannot be taken as representative of the normal administration of justice. But if violations of China’s constitution and the laws take place in such prominent cases, we can imagine the extent of violations in less visible ones. [Source]

Read more on the Zhou case’s implications for rule of law and on judicial reforms unveiled ahead of the plenum via China Digital Times.

Promoting Human Rights and Rule of Law in Yemen

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) seeks proposals to support Yemeni civil society efforts to promote human rights and increase transparency and accountability in the criminal justice system. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

• Advocacy for legal and regulatory reforms to bolster protection of human rights and human rights defenders, including increasing transparency in the criminal justice process;

• Training for NGOs to track cases in the criminal justice system to ensure that the right to due process is respected;

• Legal assistance for recourse for human rights violations;

• Exploration of the intersections between informal, traditional, and formal justice mechanisms.

Partnership with local organizations is strongly encouraged. Although small in scale, successful applications will detail how activities can be adaptable and scalable should additional funding become available. The program should provide capacity building, coaching, networking, and other support to partner Yemeni CSOs, where appropriate. Successful proposals will address how program activities will bolster the protection of the rights of women, youth, and other marginalized communities.

Further details here.