A Chinese court sentenced human rights activist Huang Qi to three years in prison Nov. 23 on charges of illegally holding state secrets. Huang was a critic of the government’s handling of the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province that killed about 90,000 people. After the quake, he posted articles online criticizing the government’s response and talked to foreign media outlets about how some children’s deaths were the result of poorly-built schools. Huang was originally detained on June 10, 2008.
Amnesty International issued a statement this July contending that China should drop charges against Huang and free him. The group charged that Huang “will be yet another victim of the Chinese authorities’ use of the extensive, vague, and retroactive state secrets system to penalize lawful rights’ defense activities.”
In February, Huang’s trial was delayed after a Chinese court postponed it for one day, leaving his attorney less than 24 hours to prepare his defense and prompting an immediate legal challenge.
Earlier this month, a Human Rights Watch report claimed that Chinese citizens are being abducted by state agents and illegally detained in “black jails” where they are subjected to a host of human rights violations. China remains the subject of intense scrutiny from the international community due to the alleged failings of its criminal justice system. (Jurist, Nov. 23)
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