“(She) was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but I don’t have any information about when and where she was arrested, where she is at the moment, and whether she has had access to a lawyer.”

Skyrocketing arrest rates and reports of long prison terms in the Uyghur region led The Rights Practice to investigate the use of criminal proceedings as a tool of repression in Xinjiang. Two findings from our research stand out. Despite moves in recent years to place all types of detention in China onto a legal footing, the decision was taken to not introduce legislation for the use of ‘vocational education and training centres’ in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Detention in these facilities is both extrajudicial and discriminatory. Secondly, there has been a massive spike in persons being prosecuted and convicted in the region placing unsustainable pressures on the courts and prisons and contributing to an expansion of the carceral system.

In June 2021, we released a Working Paper on Criminal Law and Deprivation of Liberty in the XUAR to share our findings to date. The paper delves into official statistics and Chinese law to try and understand how the criminal law is being used to detain Uyghurs. We examined court judgements against Uyghur defendants and spoke with Uyghurs in the diaspora about the lack of information. Promises to increase judicial transparency mean very little in the face of a Strike Hard campaign and the criminalisation of religious practice. Released prisoners face continued restrictions on their physical liberty through ‘educational placements’ in ‘training centres’. For some Uyghurs there is a revolving door between the camps, detention centres, prisons and back to the camps.

Read the full report here.