Joint statement on the concerning developments in the case of Ding Jiaxi
In a joint statement, Lawyers for Lawyers, the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, and ChinaAid express concern about the new developments in the case of human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi. The charges against Ding Jiaxi were altered to a more severe charge of ‘subverting state power’ and reports of him being subjected to torture during his detention have been confirmed by his lawyer.
Ding Jiaxi was arrested on 26 December 2019 as part of a large-scale crackdown targeting human rights lawyers and citizen activists, labelled the 1226 crackdown. Mr. Ding had been actively involved in the promotion of human rights since 2010 by pushing for the rights of migrant workers and by being involved in the New Citizens Movement, which promoted governmental transparency and the rule of law. Mr. Ding was first arrested and convicted in 2014 for charges related to his activism. After serving his full sentence in 2017, he was released, but was given a travel ban that prevented him from reuniting with his US-based family.
In December 2019, Mr. Ding was arrested on charges of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ during the aforementioned 1226 crackdown. In January 2021 these charges were altered to ‘subverting state power’, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The initial charge was an ‘inchoate charge’, whereas the charge ‘subverting state power’ is a ‘substantive charge’.
After his arrest in 2019, Mr. Ding was held under Residential Surveillance at Designated Location (RSDL). Mr. Ding’s lawyer, who recently spoke to his client, confirmed that Mr. Ding had been tortured during his detention under RSDL.
After his arrest, Mr. Ding did not have prompt access to a lawyer. He has only recently been granted access to his lawyers after 326 consecutive days of detainment under RSDL. Our sources confirm that since 21 January 2021, Mr. Ding has been able to see his lawyers four times, with the last visit being on 9 March 2021. However, his lawyers reported that he has been stopped from reviewing Mr. Ding’s case files.
On 23 March 2020, a group of United Nations human rights experts expressed concern about Mr. Ding and two other human rights defenders who were arrested alongside Mr. Ding on 26 December 2019.
In the statement, the undersigned organisations call upon the Chinese authorities to respect fair trial guarantees and the safeguards laid down in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
Lawyers for Lawyers, the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, and ChinaAid respectfully urge the Chinese government to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Ding Jiaxi, put an end to all acts of harassment – including judicial harassment – against him and ensure that he is able to carry out his activities without hindrance or fear of reprisals;
- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ding Jiaxi;
- Ensure Ding Jiaxi has full access to his lawyer and that his lawyer is provided with the appropriate information, files and documents to enable them to provide effective legal assistance to Ding Jiaxi;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers, including human rights lawyers, in China are able to carry out their legitimate professional duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
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