A Chinese court awarded damages to the mother of a rape victim after she was sent to a labor camp for demanding her daughter’s attackers be punished, a spokesman said yesterday.
Tang Hui (唐慧), who became a figurehead for opponents of the “re-education through labor” system after she was condemned to 18 months in a camp, won a total of 2,641 yuan (US$430) following an appeal, a court spokesman surnamed Zhang (張) said.
The court in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, awarded the compensation on the grounds that local authorities had violated Tang’s personal freedom and caused her “psychological damage,” Zhang said.
However, it rejected Tang’s demand that the police who sentenced her write a formal apology, because the “relevant people had apologized in court,” he added.
The police chief of Yongzhou, who headed the committee that sentenced Tang, said during the hearing that he had “not acted with enough humanity or care,” Tang said earlier this month.
She was released in August last year after just more than a week in a labor 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 Tang lost her initial case. She had estimated the chance of success in her appeal as a “remote possibility.”
Tang’s daughter, 11 at the time, was kidnapped, raped and forced into prostitution in 2006, prompting 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. However, Tang continued to agitate for the policemen to face trial and soon afterward she was sentenced for “seriously disturbing social order and exerting a negative impact on society.”
She could not be reached for comment after the court decision, but posted a brief message on a verified account opened recently on microblog service Sina Weibo saying: “Thank you everyone.”
China’s re-education through labor system gives police the right to hand out sentences of up to four years without a judicial trial.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) in March said the system would be “reformed,” without giving further details.
US-based advocacy group the Dui Hua Foundation said on its Web site last month that some re-education through labor facilities had been “quietly taking formal steps to transition into compulsory drug treatment centers,” citing local media reports.