- Geng He, wife of imprisoned Gao Zhisheng, at a press conference; Source: Flickr (Geng He)
According to the Legal Daily Newspaper which published the information on the draft law, police would have to ask permission from a prosecutor or public security agency to bring the detainee to a secret place of detention. Human rights organisations and lawyers have strongly criticised the government’s plan and emphasised that it would legitimise enforced disappearances. People in secret detention face a high risk of being subjected to torture, in particular if they are held outside of prisons and police stations.
The residential surveillance law was originally intended as a less punitive measure than formal detention. In recent months, during crackdowns on activists, dissidents and lawyers, many were held incommunicado. Among them was artist Ai Wei Wei who returned home from police custody where he is now kept under house arrest. Ai lately criticised China for denying basic rights and described Beijing as “a city of violence”. Other activists, such as high-profile lawyer Gao Zhisheng, are still missing after being detained.