This lawsuit has been filed against Jiang Zemin, the former President of China and other functionaries of the PRC, accusing them of genocide, crimes against humanity, torture, murder and the severe bodily harm of Falun Gong practitioners in the period between 1999 and 2003. As Johannes Rau commented in Nanjing: “Human rights have a universal meaning”. In September 2003, the German Federal President went on to say in a statement about human rights that was given in front of approximately one thousand students and professors at the University of Nanjing: “If it concerns a persons fundamental rights to life, freedom, and the protection from torture, arbitrary imprisonment and discrimination, the prerequisites for being able to walk upright basically cannot be compromised.” The submission of the lawsuit that has been prepared for November 2003 in Germany stands on this intellectual background. This lawsuit focuses entirely on the crimes of Jiang Zemin and his followers, who do not represent the Chinese people or the Chinese state.
Punishment for Human Rights Transgressions in China:
On November 21st 2003, a criminal lawsuit was filed in Germany’s highest court in Karlsruhe against the former president of China, Jiang Zemin, and other functionaries of the PRC. Plaintiffs are forty Germans, Chinese, Irish, Canadians, Australians and U.S. citizens. The suit accuses the defendants of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, murder, torture and serious bodily harm, amongst others against Falun Gong practitioners, in the period between 1999 and 2003. Sixteen defendants have been named outright. Others, who are unnamed have also been included in this 86-page indictment as parties directly or indirectly involved with these accusations and who have participated or caused to participate in the torture and abuse of Falun Gong practitioners. This criminal complaint graphically outlines fifteen of these cases in detail. These have occurred in police custody and in forced labour camps.
The suit had been delivered to the Federal Court in Karlsruhe, accompanied by two volumes of documentation, including additional testimony from well-respected human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch together with documentation of the deaths of 818 Falun Gong practitioners to date.
It would be desirable to work in clear legal terms about the torture and death cases in China itself. But, in spite of the German-Chinese legal dialogue; China still is far removed from implementing a rule of law.
Witnesses to these crimes and family members of the victims are being threatened and frequently become persecution victims themselves. Judicial exposure to those criminal acts that were committed at the hands of these state functionaries in China is not possible. Even the efforts of human rights organisations in China have been forbidden. International legal tribunals have no jurisdiction for criminal acts perpetrated there.
That is the reason that the victims are filing suits in European countries, such as in Belgium, France and Spain as well as in other, non-European countries. Since at least June 30th 2002, Germany has such a valid law on the books. It is the “Voelkerstrafrechtsgesetzbuch,” pertaining to victims of human rights abuses, making favourable redress for those affected. This law, unfortunately, has not yet been tested. The application will bear out if the language of this law will withstand the deeds in question i.e. if actual punishment can be meted out.
The Federal Court in Karlsruhe is the highest instance in cases of genocide and crimes against humanity in Germany. The plaintiffs hope that this higher court will not accept the status quo regarding human rights abuses in China and that the court will commence enquiries against Jiang Zemin and other accused parties.
The German court system does not permit legal processes in the absence of the accused, and it is questionable if any of the accused will be present on German soil anytime soon. But, considering a previous lawsuit brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the German criminal justice system has an obligation to clear up as soon as possible these accusations before the court.
As soon as possible, the defendants that have been named in the lawsuit against which reasonable assumption of guilt exists, must as soon as possible be served with an international arrest warrant. This has already happened in instances of criminal activity by the Argentine military, a suit that had been filed with the Federal Criminal prosecutor in Nuernberg-Fuerth. That makes the accused acutely aware of their future travel plans.
German enquiries into these accusation will encourage judicial enquiries in other nations into conducting their own investigations, to collect these findings and perhaps, at some future time, to locally begin criminal proceedings in China against those guilty of human rights crimes.
Signed Wolfgang Kaleck
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