Briefing Paper: UN experts' documentation of Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL) in China

This briefing paper summarises the position of UN experts that RSDL constitutes enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and could amount to torture, and includes a repository of all UN documents referring to RSDL since August 2018.

Since 2012, China’s rubber-stamp legislative body passed and amended several articles in its Criminal Procedure Law that give police the power to take people into custody without disclosing where they will be held: this is called ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’ (in short: RSDL). Individuals are held at undisclosed locations for up to six months, without access to a lawyer, notification to the family, or possibility for an impartial judicial review. Individuals held under RSDL consistently report being subjected to torture to extract confessions. They are cut from the outside world, while their relatives are unaware if they are dead or alive.

United Nations experts are clear: RSDL is a form of enforced disappearance and might amount to torture. 

Since 2018, UN Special Procedures experts have widely analysed Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL) in a range of letters and legal opinions on individual cases, sent to the Chinese Government. They assert that RSDL constitutes enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and can constitute torture in and of itself, in addition to increasing the risk of exposure to torture and ill-treatment. This briefing paper summarises the position of UN experts, and includes a repository of all UN documents referring to RSDL since August 2018.

RSDL is a form of enforced disappearance, prohibited under international law.  Join our campaign to  #RepealRSDL

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