Joint statement on the trials of Ding Jiaxi & Xu Zhiyong
In a joint statement, Lawyers for Lawyers, Human Rights Now, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Rights Practice and The 29 Principles express their concern about the recent trials of human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi and legal scholar and lawyer Dr. Xu Zhiyong. On 22 June 2022 and 24 June 2022 respectively, Dr. Xu and Mr. Ding were tried for charges of “subverting state power”. Dr. Xu and Mr. Ding have been held in pretrial detention for more than two years and have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment during their arbitrary detention.
Both trials have been 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 have been forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring them from sharing information about the trials, and Xu’s lawyers have been threatened with disbarment by the Chinese authorities if they ever spoke to the press about the case. At the time of writing, no official statement about the hearings or verdicts has been released.
Furthermore, both Dr. Xu and Mr. Ding have repeatedly alleged that the evidence and statements held against them had been obtained under torture or ill-treatment. This violates Art. 15 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), which states that ‘any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings’. Mr. Ding, with the help of his wife Luo Shengchun, has filed official applications requesting for all evidence obtained under torture to be excluded. Unfortunately, these applications appear to have proved unsuccessful.
Lawyers for Lawyers, Human Rights Now, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Rights Practice and The 29 Principles call on the Chinese authorities to ensure that:
- All charges against Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong are dropped, and they are immediately and unconditionally released;
- 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;
- all human rights lawyers and human rights defenders are provided with their freedom ofexpression of political and other opinions in accordance with China’s internationalobligations to respect and fulfil human rights law and standards; and
- 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;
- 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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