Suppression of human rights lawyers
Together with other organizations, Lawyers for Lawyers called on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all the decisions about revoking and invalidating lawyers’ licenses and to stop all forms of harassment, intimidation and repression against human rights lawyers in respect of their legal practice.
It was reported that in the past 8 months, 17 human rights lawyers and 3 law firms from 9 different provinces have been deprived of the rights to practice as lawyers due to the revocation and invalidation of their practicing licenses. In the past month alone, 6 human rights lawyers have already received notice from the Bureau of Justice that their licenses were to be revoked or invalidated.
This wave of suppression of human rights lawyers is an extension of the notorious “709 Crackdown”in 2015. On 9 July 2015, dozens of lawyers were arrested and detained at secret locations. Some of them were released after a few hours; others disappeared for a number of months. The international community expressed alarm about this unprecedented and seemingly well-coordinated detention campaign aimed at human rights lawyers and defenders. More than 300 human rights lawyers, legal assistants, and human rights defenders were targeted during the nationwide sweep, now known as the ‘709 crackdown’, referring to the day the Chinese authorities conducted the first arrests.Amongst the aforementioned 17 lawyers, more than half are the 709 detainees or the defense lawyers for the 709 detainees.
Furthermore, in November 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Justice implemented two administrative directives affecting law firmsand lawyers. One of the directives stipulates that lawyers are prohibited from expressing opinions that may “endanger national security”. They must also refrain from expression opinions that could lead to people to “disturb the public order”. Furthermore, lawyers are prohibited from spreading opinions that could cause insult to others by “distorting the facts”. 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.
Lawyers for Lawyers remains concerned about the situation of lawyers in China, and will continue to closely monitor the situation.
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