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NEWS

Fair Trials Supports the Day of the Endangered Lawyers

editor - January 24, 2017

 

Every year the 24th of January is observed as the day of the endangered lawyers. This is the 7th year where endangered lawyers are supported all over the world through press conferences, and meetings. The day was initiated in 2009 by Hans Gaasback, the president of the commission Defense de la Defense of the European Democratic Lawyers Organization. Each year, the day sheds light on a certain country where lawyers are threatened, harassed, abused, detained or tortured.

This year, the focus is going to be on lawyers who have been persecuted and harassed in China. China’s legal environment is threatening lawyers and human rights defenders in several ways. First, China’s constant changes in legislation are stifling the work of the lawyers, hindering them from their full right to practice while at the same time expanding the power of the police. Second, the judicial bureau, China’s executive branch of the judiciary is currently jeopardising the autonomy of lawyers as both individuals and professionals. This has been highlighted in September 2016, after the Ministry of Justice has amended the Measures on the Administration of Lawyer Practice and the Measures on the Administration of Law Firms which resulted in putting lawyers under the close observation of the bureau to monitor not only, their political ideologies but also their freedom of speech in how they handle serious cases of injustices. Third, the system of annual inspection is used as a way of penalising law firms and lawyers who do not abide to the regulations set by the judicial bureau or who do not wish to alter the direction of their activities. Fourth, the level of physical violence against lawyers inside or outside courtrooms has increased significantly.

This level of hostility against lawyers became apparent with the crackdown on human rights lawyers and defenders that took place in July 2015, or what is now labelled as 709 crack-down. Named after the date of the start of the arrest; the 9th of July, Hundreds of human rights lawyers, their families and colleagues were harassed, interrogated, detained or tortured. Many of the lawyers who were arrested have been detained incommunicado, without permission to meet their defence lawyers.

headerThe case of Jiang Tiyanyong is only the most recent one. Jiang is a human rights lawyer who is passionate about providing legal services for the less advantaged. His practising license was revoked as a result of his engagement in these activities; however, he didn’t stop helping others.  On the 21st of November 2016, Jiang disappeared for three weeks until the authorities confirmed holding him in detention on an administrative penalty. Later on, Jiang’s family was notified that he was being held under house arrest in an unknown location under charges of “inciting subversion of state power”.  Since then, the whereabouts and the physical and mental health of Jiang remain unknown. Several other lawyers have fallen victims of this public crackdown, including Wang Quanzhang, LI Heping, Xie Yanyi and many others who have all been accused of trying to subvert state power because of their humanitarian activities.

China is under an obligation to abide by the international treaties and standards it ratified like the CEDAW, ICERD, CAT, CRC, ICESCR, and CRPD.  It is worth noting that China has signed but not yet ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It also supported the “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers” which oblige states to protect their lawyers.

At Fair Trials, we join all the voices calling for the support of endangered lawyers in China and elsewhere, and for the governments to reform their policies and abide by their legal obligations to ensure that lawyers are not harassed or punished for their work.

To know more about the day of the endangered lawyers, click here.

To get an in-depth background about the situation in China, click here.

To follow up on the cases of the accused Chinese lawyers, click here, or follow their pages on Facebook and Twitter.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71. For regular updates follow Fair Trials on Twitter and Facebook or sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page. FB iconClick to share this story on Facebook

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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