Joint UPR-Submission China
In March 2019, Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers Rights Watch Canada submitted a report for the Universal Periodic Review of China. This review will take place in October/November 2019.
In the report, Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers Rights Watch Canada highlighted that the Chinese authorities do not always uphold the necessary guarantees for the proper functioning of the legal profession in practice, as set out in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. The report focusses on the following issues:
(i)No effective guarantees for lawyers to perform their professional duties or
exercise internationally protected rights
Lawyers in China working on sensitive cases have been subjected to harassment, improper interference, illegitimate prosecutions, unfair trials, denial of legal representation, torture, and incommunicado detention, arbitrary deprivation of liberty and denial of access to an independent, impartial and competent judiciary to determine rights and criminal charges.
(ii) Violations of rights to liberty
During and after the campaign, known as the “709 Crackdown” a lot of lawyers representing vulnerable groups or politically sensitive clients and causes and/or calling for improved rights have been arrested and charged with subversion of state power, inciting subversion of state power, and picking quarrels and stirring up troubles. Such broad and vague charges cannot serve as an adequate legal basis for conviction or deprivation of liberty, because they leave too much room for subjective interpretation and detention on arbitrary grounds.
(iii) Freedom of expression of lawyers
In November 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Justice implemented two administrative directives affecting law firms and lawyers. The Directives require lawyers and law firms to support the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist rule of law as the basic requirement for legal practice. The Directives also prohibit lawyers from inciting or organizing their clients to participate in demonstrations that disturb public order, even if these are demonstrations are peaceful. Using the internet to provoke discontent against the Communist Party and the state is forbidden as well. An accusation of non-compliance with these Directives can lead to withdrawal or non-renewal of the license of a firm or lawyer to practice law.
Read the full report and advocacy charter here
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