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Resource Information Center: China

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Response to Information Request Number:CHN01002.ZLA
Date:5 March 2001
Subject:China: Information on Identifying Prison Detainees by Number
From:INS Resource Information Center, Washington, DC
Keywords:China / Detained persons / Labor camps / Prison conditions / Reeducation camps


In China, what is the system of identifying detainees by inmate number? How does the system work? How much variation is there in this system of identification? What detainees might not be assigned an inmate number? What classes of detention facilities assign inmate numbers? Would a detainee know his or her inmate number? Would an inmate at an older detention facility have a number higher than an inmate at a newer facility? Does the RIC have information on Lu Wan Public Security Bureau in Shanghai?


The RIC was unable to find information on Lu Wan Public Security Bureau in Shanghai.

According to a representative of Human Rights in China (HRIC), a representative of Freedom House (FH), and the executive director of Laogai Research Foundation (LRF), there is no nation-wide system of identifying detainees by inmate number in China, and China does not conform to any international system of identifying detainees by number (HRIC Representative 16 Feb. 2001, FH Representative 16 Feb. 2001, LRF Executive Director 5 March 2001). The executive director of LRF stated that the detentions system in China is complicated, and there are no established rules to follow. Locally (at the provincial or lower levels) there are numbering systems, but these are not uniform or even similar throughout China. Some prisoners will be identified by number and will be familiar with that number; these prisoners may be told that they are only to identify themselves to other inmates by this number. Other prisoners may be numbered but be unfamiliar with this number throughout their detention. During his own 19 year detention, the executive director of LRF did not know his own inmate identification number (LRF Executive Director 5 March 2001).

Hard-copy and electronic sources consulted by the RIC did not produce further information on this topic.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Executive Director, Laogai Research Foundation. Washington, DC. 5 March 2001. Telephone interview.

Representative, Freedom House. Washington, DC. 16 February 2001. Telephone interview.

Representative, Human Rights in China. New York, NY. 16 February 2001. Telephone interview.

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