- Phelim Kine is an Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch. The opinions expressed are her own. -

When 15-year-old Wang Xiaomei made the long trip from Gansu province to Beijing last year, she hoped to find justice for her family. Instead, she met with abuse.

First, Wang was abducted by plainclothes Gansu officials, who imprisoned her incommunicado for two months in a “black jail”—an illegal detention facility.

Two days before her September 13, 2008 release, Wang’s captors beat her so badly they knocked out one of her teeth. Wang’s victimizers have never been brought to justice.

Worse still, Wang’s experience—which stands in stark contrast to the Chinese government’s claims of fealty to the rule of law—is not unique. A new Human Rights Watch report released today, “An Alleyway in Hell: China’s Abusive ‘Black Jails',” exposes the routine and severe human rights abuses perpetrated against detainees in these secret facilities.