Jerome Cohen and Margaret Lewis's recent book, Challenge to China, offers a unique historical vantage point from which to understand two recently abolished, severe forms of administrative detention: the liumang system from Taiwan, and China's re-education through labor (RTL) system. The two systems, both of which allowed police to bypass the normal criminal justice system in imposing punishments of several years' detention on light offenders, had long been viewed as indispensable tools for law enforcement. As the authors began their research, both systems were still in full force, and this project was intended to shine a spotlight on Taiwan's liumang system, about which little had been written despite its increasingly stark contrast with Taiwan's rapidly modernizing justice system. The authors hoped that not only would the increased attention spur reform in Taiwan, but also that this reform might, in turn, present a model for change in the P.R.C. What they could not have anticipated was that even before their writing was complete, the Taiwan system would be gradually worn down by constitutional challenges and ultimately abolished. More unexpectedly still, shortly after the book's publication, China at long last also took decisive steps toward ending its notorious RTL system.
To access the full article through LexisNexis, please follow this link. 46 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. & Pol. 1193.
Author: Jeremy Daum