Update UPR China & Hong Kong – L4L delegation in Geneva 
30 maart 2024

Update UPR China & Hong Kong – L4L delegation in Geneva 

China

On 23 January 2024, the session for the fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China, including Hong Kong, was held at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Lawyers for Lawyers jointly submitted a report for this UPR and sent a delegation to the UPR pre-sessions that took place in November 2023 in Geneva. During the UPR session, several states explicitly mentioned the situation of lawyers in their recommendations and advance questions to China, highlighting the urgent and dire situation of lawyers.  

The key concern highlighted in Lawyers for Lawyers’ joint report for the UPR is China’s compliance with its international human rights obligations under the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. This notably pertains to the prosecution, imposition of disciplinary measures, and harassment faced by lawyers, along with their restriction of freedom of expression, including the restriction on the rights of lawyers in Hong Kong.   

During the UPR pre-sessions, The 29 Principles – the NGO with which Lawyers for Lawyers jointly submitted its report – gave a presentation to a large number of state representatives expressing our collective concerns about the dire situation of lawyers in China and Hong Kong.    

After the UPR pre-sessions, the Lawyers for Lawyers delegation raised their specific concerns regarding the deteriorating situation of lawyers in China and Hong Kong with state delegates during a retreat organized by the International Service for Human Rights between several NGOs and over 60 country delegations. Apart from explaining the most pressing issues, Lawyers for Lawyers urged the state delegates to explicitly address the situation of lawyers in their recommendations to China.  

During the UPR session itself, five states expressly mentioned lawyers in their advance questions submitted to China. Three states gave a list of names of detained human rights defenders that included human rights lawyers, asking for the justification for their detention consistent with human rights law, the steps being taken to protect them from a list of violations, and their location and status. The Chinese delegation avoided answering or properly responding to any of these questions. Furthermore, seven states mentioned lawyers explicitly in their recommendations to China during the UPR session. Asian Lawyers Network has written an extensive article on, among other things, the advanced questions and recommendations relating to lawyers. 

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