L4L joins call for UN action on China
In an open letter sent to heads of government missions to the United Nations in Geneva, Lawyers for Lawyers joined 39 other NGOs to press for a UN resolution to address the deteriorating human rights situation in China.
The NGOs call for governments to use the upcoming session of the Human Rights Council (February 25-March 22, 2019) as an opportunity to push with “one voice”: for accountability for the deteriorating human rights situation in China which has been gaining increasing international attention.
China’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR)—highlighted deeply concerning developments, including the continued persecution of human rights lawyers. lawyers in China working on sensitive cases, including cases in which they represent clients whose civil and political rights are violated, have been subjected to harassment, improper interference, arbitrary arrests, prosecutions, and convictions, as well as unfair trials, including denial of legal representation. Furthermore, in November 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Justice implemented two administrative (MoJ Directive 133 and 134) that 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. Lawyers are also prohibited from inciting, organizing or participating in demonstrations that could disturb public order, offline and online. The overly broad prohibitions can be arbitrarily applied to the exercise of internationally protected rights to expression, association and assembly. An accusation of non-compliance with these Directives can lead to the arbitrary withdrawal or non-renewal of the license of a law firm or lawyer to practice law. The authorities often use their control over the licensing of lawyers to exclude lawyers who authorities perceive as ‘problematic’ for providing legal representation for sensitive cases.
Lawyers for Lawyers, together with the co-signatories of this appeal, urge governments to call on China, among other things:
- to provide independent international human rights experts with unfettered access to all parts of the country, including areas populated by ethnic and religious minorities;
- to promptly reform national security legislation to meet international standards, and to stop using such laws in ways that violate human rights;
- to release individuals — including human rights defenders and lawyers among others — unjustly or arbitrarily detained.
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