Joint statement on the sentencing of Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong
24 April 2023

Joint statement on the sentencing of Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong


In a joint statement, Lawyers for Lawyers, The 29 Principles, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), and The Rights Practice condemn the sentencing of lawyer Ding Jiaxi and legal scholar Xu Zhiyong. On 10 April 2023, Ding Jiaxi was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and 3 years deprivation of political rights and Xu Zhiyong to 14 years imprisonment. The Linshu County Court found both guilty on charges of “subverting state power” after they were tried in closed door trials in June 2022. Dr. Xu and Mr. Ding had already been held in pretrial detention for more than two years and have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment during their arbitrary detention.

The full statement can be read here.

Last June, the trials of both Dr. Xu and Mr. Ding were held behind closed doors on the grounds that ‘they involved state secrets’, and even close relatives of the defendants were not allowed to attend the hearings. According to reliable sources, the lawyers defending Dr. Xu and Mr. Ding had been forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring them from sharing information about the trials, and Dr. Xu’s lawyers have been threatened with disbarment by the Chinese authorities if they ever spoke to the press about the case. Also now, after the verdict has been delivered, Dr Xu and Mr. Ding’s lawyers have been forced to sign an agreement to not disclose the verdict to the public.

Lawyers for Lawyers, the 29 Principles, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, IBAHRI, ISHR, and The Rights Practice condemn the sentencing of Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi and call upon the Chinese authorities to ensure that:

  • Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi are released;
  • all charges against them are expunged until there are legitimate charges supported by credible evidence presented in proceedings that comply with fair trial guarantees;
  • an independent investigation is conducted in relation to the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment to which Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong were subjected in detention and punish the perpetrators in accordance with China’s own laws and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which China ratified in 1988;
  • evidence obtained through torture is not invoked as evidence in legal proceedings;
  • all forms of arbitrary detention, including RSDL, are terminated;
  • the practice of using non-disclosure agreements to keep lawyers from speaking about the trials and verdicts of politically sensitive cases is terminated.
  • all human rights lawyers and human rights defenders are provided with their freedom of expression of political and other opinions in accordance with China’s international obligations to respect and fulfil human rights law and standards; and
  • the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers are respected, and that lawyers are able to assist their clients without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference and without threats of prosecution or administrative sanctions for any actions they take in accordance with internationally recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

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