Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Central Party School (CPS) 2012 Study Visit at the NYC Commission on Human Rights

Shulei Li, Vice President of Central Party School (CPS), leader of the study group listening to the translator.

When I think of China and human rights, those two things are not synonymous. Most people would even say that it does not exist in China. It is unimaginable to believe there would be a delegation of over 30 Chinese high ranking government leaders with its entourage of translators, guides and assistants visiting the NYC Commission on Human Rights. On Friday, August 17, 2012, I had the opportunity to reportage this incredible meeting. The Central Party School (CPS) 2012 Study Group is part of a learning program that travels annually to foreign government agencies to learn from their experience implementing policies and public administration. It consists of diverse members nominated by their government agencies and state-owned enterprises to attend this year long program.

Patricia L. Gatling,  Commissioner/Chair of  NYC Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and Clifford Mulqueen, Deputy Commissioner, briefs Chinese delegation about CCHR.

The Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Patricia L. Gatling welcomes the visiting Chinese group and introduces the Commission's history and function. She explains how expansive NYC laws are against discrimination and the groups it protects. The importance of Commission's role in bettering the lives of the people who live and/or work in NYC. 

Jian Zhang, Director of Anhui Provincial Office of Foreign Affairs, first to ask questions.

The Chinese delegation asked questions about legislation, local vs. federal law, the process of investigation, prosecution, and education. For example one question that was asked (by Jian Zhang?) was how NYC Human Rights Laws affect the homeless population in NYC. What are their rights? How are they dealt with without violating their rights? How do you deal with them and enforce public safety without the law being abused and/or taken advantage of? These questions may reflect issues local Chinese agencies is currently facing with large numbers of people migrating to cities looking for work and creating a homeless population they need to manage.

Patricia L. Gatling quotes Malcolm X, "There is no human rights if there no civil rights laws in place to protect the citizens rights."

As a Chinese American born in NYC, I was taught to understand what my civil rights are at an early age. I live my life everyday enjoying the privileges I believe I am entitled to and that our government laws should provide and protect. This meeting was an incredible opportunity to share with Chinese governing officials our approach to and understanding of human rights/discriminatory laws. Chinese interest in learning from the Commission's example is an encouraging step towards the future direction of China's laws on human rights and discriminatory laws. Through questions the delegation asked I understood their desire to find a way to administer and enforce the law while respecting the individual's rights. A difficult task that requires dedication to upholding those ideals.

Continuing the discussion over lunch.

Prevention through education is one of the most important mission the Commission takes on. Its role is not just as an enforcer but also as an educator to bring awareness to the public of what their rights are. Most of their funding is used to provide education through workshops, awareness, publications, access to specialists and information online for the public.

Shulei Li asks Patricia L. Gatling whether the commissioner stays once NYC administration changes.

At the close of the meeting both parties were very happy with the chance to exchange ideas. For myself it was an incredible opportunity to document through drawing such an iconic event. Even though this may not be a highly publicized event, it was an important one in a positive direction. I am very happy I was allowed to be a part of it.

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