Beijing: A Chinese court awarded damages to the mother of a rape victim after she was sent to a labour camp for demanding her daughter’s attackers be punished, a spokesman said on Monday.
Tang Hui, who became a figurehead for critics of the “re-education through labour” system after she was condemned to 18 months in a camp, won a total of 2641 yuan ($471) following an appeal, a court spokesman surnamed Zhang said.
The court in Changsha, the capital of the central province of Hunan, awarded compensation on the grounds that local authorities had violated Ms Tang’s personal freedom and caused her “psychological damage”, Mr Zhang said.
But it rejected Ms Tang’s demand that the police who sentenced her write a formal apology, because the “relevant people had apologised in court”, he added.
The police chief of Yongzhou, who headed the committee that sentenced Ms Tang, said during the hearing that he had “not acted with enough humanity or care”, Ms Tang said earlier this month.
Ms Tang’s daughter, 11 at the time, was kidnapped, raped and forced into prostitution in 2006, prompting Ms Tang to seek to bring to justice the abductors and the police she says protected them.
Seven men were finally convicted in June last year, with two condemned to death, four given life sentences and one jailed for 15 years.
She was released last August after just over a week in a labour camp following a public outcry over her case, which was given unusual prominence in state-run media and prompted speculation that the system would be abolished.
The compensation award comes as a surprise after Ms Tang lost her initial case. She herself had estimated the chance of success in her appeal as a “remote possibility”.
The ruling, which overturned a lower court decision, was another public blow to re-education through labour, a widely reviled system of punishment that allows the police to send away minor offenders for up to four years without trial, and with little chance for appeal.
For some legal experts, the ruling provided further evidence that the ruling Communist Party is preparing to modify a Mao-era extralegal judicial system that has become increasingly untenable, both to international bodies like the United Nations and among the Chinese public.
The case of Ms Tang, popularly known as the ‘‘petitioning mama,’’ has been widely covered in the domestic news media. On Monday, even People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, hailed the decision and demanded an end to re-education through labour.
‘‘All of society should remember the misfortune and hardship endured by a mother, and more importantly, the duty of the judicial system, which is to let the people experience justice and fairness,’’ it said.
Although the system is mostly used to punish drug addicts, prostitutes and petty thieves, the authorities in recent years have found it to be a convenient tool for corralling members of banned religious groups, political dissidents and ‘‘abnormal petitioners,’’ which is how the government in Yongzhou, Tang’s hometown, viewed her activities.
Ms Tang spent hours kneeling outside the provincial high court in Changsha, and travelled to Beijing to file appeals with the central government.
Annoyed and embarrassed, the local authorities in Yongzhou decided in August to send her away, saying her behaviour disturbed social order and was ‘‘exerting a negative impact on society.’’
But Ms Tang continued to agitate for the policemen to face trial, and soon afterwards she was sentenced for “seriously disturbing social order and exerting a negative impact on society”.
Ms Tang said she had mixed feelings about the decision, which included a spoken apology from the police chief of Yongzhou, not the written one she had demanded in her lawsuit. ‘‘At this point, I want to let bygones be bygones,’’ she said softly.
‘‘I want to spend more time with my daughter and to wipe all those bad things from my memory. I just want some peace and to have a good rest.’’
Premier Li Keqiang said in March that the re-education through labour system would be “reformed”, without giving further details.
US-based advocacy group the Dui Hua Foundation said on its website last month that some re-education through labour facilities had been “quietly taking formal steps to transition into compulsory drug treatment centres”, citing local media reports.
source: the age