Despite international scrutiny and censure of such abuses amid preparations for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the pace of forced evictions has only accelerated over the past three years, with millions of people across the country forced from their residences without appropriate legal protection and safeguards. These evictions are often marked by violence, committed both by state and private actors in pursuit of economic gain and, less commonly, by frustrated residents in desperate acts of protest and resistance.
Chinese who lose their homes or land in forced evictions often find themselves living in poorly constructed dwellings far away from jobs, schools and public transport. Because there is not yet a comprehensive social welfare safety net in the countryside, rural residents are particularly vulnerable to severe economic hardship after evictions. Farmers who lose their land often end up in poverty. The problem of forced evictions represents the single most significant source of popular discontent in China and a serious threat to social and political stability.
Amnesty International urges the Chinese government to:
- Halt immediately all forced evictions, explicitly prohibit them under law and ensure that adequate safeguards and protections are put in place in line with international law;
- Develop and adopt guidelines for evictions based on the UN Special Rapporteur’s Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement that comply with international human rights law and standards;
- Develop and adopt concrete and effective measures to ensure the entire population a minimum degree of security of tenure sufficient at least to protect them from forced evictions and other threats and harassment;
- Ensure that nobody is rendered homeless as a result of an eviction and is provided with adequate alternative housing;
- Ensure that all victims of forced evictions have access to independent and impartial adjudication of their complaints and to an effective remedy;
- Respect and guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law;
- Punish and prosecute state and non-state actors who violate the rights of residents, including but not limited to the use of violence, during the eviction process; and Introduce an immediate moratorium on any new mass evictions until the above key
reforms are implemented.