Court Officials Refuse Falun Gong Practitioner's Appeal of RTL Sentence

November 3, 2006

Liu Ruping, a lawyer and Falun Gong practitioner, has been unsuccessful in appealing his reeducation through labor (RTL) sentence. Courts in Jinan city, Shandong province, refused to accept appeals on his behalf from either Liu or his lawyer, Yang Zaixin, according to a January 12, 2006, Epoch Times article and a Boxun article dated the same day. The Jinan City RTL Administration Commission sentenced Liu Ruping to 15 months of RTL on December 14, 2005, for disturbing public order by posting Falun Gong notices, according to the RTL decision available on the Epoch Times Web site.

Officials detained Liu after he posted Falun Gong material on Jinan city streets on October 17, 2005, and held him at the Changqing District Detention Center on suspicion of "organizing or using a cult to undermine implementation of the law" (a crime under Article 300 of the Criminal Law), according to the detention center release document available on the Minghui Web site. Liu was detained on October 25 and released the same day, after the Changqing district branch of the local public security bureau concluded that the circumstances surrounding Liu's actions were not serious, and that his actions therefore did not constitute a crime. On November 25, Liu published an open letter on the Minghui Web site, calling for an end to the "forced conversion" of Falun Gong practitioners. He claimed that from October 25 to about November 7, he was subjected to a "forced conversion" class run by the "Changqing Public Security Anti-Cult Investigation Team." On December 7, officials detained him again, and on December 14, the Jinan City RTL Administration Commission found Liu guilty of "disturbing public order" by "posting Falun Gong propaganda," according to the RTL decision. The commission charged him under Articles 10(4) and 13 of the State Council 1982 Trial Measures on RTL. Article 10(4) provides for RTL sentences in cases where the defendant disturbs public security, but the actions do not rise to the level of a crime. Article 13 provides for a RTL term ranging from one to three years. The RTL decision does not mention Liu’s open letter, but instead cites the October 17 incident as the reason Liu was sent to RTL.

A July 10, 2006, Epoch Times article says that Liu tried to file an administrative lawsuit in the Jinan Intermediate People's Court from his RTL facility on December 26, but never received a response. On January 12, 2006, his lawyer, Yang Zaixin, attempted to meet with Liu to make arrangements to be his defense counsel, according to the January 12 Epoch Times and Boxun articles. Officials at the RTL center denied Yang access to Liu. On the same day, officials at the Shizhong District People’s Court in Jinan refused Yang’s attempts to file an appeal on behalf of Liu. Yang Zaixin previously served as defense counsel for two Falun Gong practitioners in Guangxi province, according to an interview with him published in the Epoch Times on January 26, 2006. Yang's law firm dismissed him on January 26, 2006, and reportedly cited Yang’s defense of Falun Gong practitioners as a reason for his dismissal.

Public security officials punish the majority of detained Falun Gong practitioners administratively, including by detaining them in RTL centers. Administrative punishments are controversial because police issue them without effective judicial review or the minimal procedural protections that the Criminal Procedure Law provides to criminal defendants. Under Article 37 of the Administrative Procedure Law (APL), an individual can first apply for reconsideration of an administrative punishment and, if he refuses to accept the reconsideration decision, then bring an administrative lawsuit in court to challenge the decision. Alternatively, an individual can also go straight to court to challenge an administrative punishment. Under Article 42 of the APL, a court has seven days to either docket the case or make a ruling not to accept it. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in an addendum to its 2004 report, has found that in practice, the Administrative Procedure Law is "of very little value" and that "no real judicial control has been created over the procedure to commit someone to [reeducation] through labor."

For more information on administrative punishments and government persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, see the CECC 2006 Annual Report, Section V(b), Rights of Criminal Suspects and Defendants: Administrative Detention and Section V(d), Freedom of Religion: Government Persecution of Falun Gong.