(TibetanReview.net, Dec15, 2014) – China’s new official rhetoric about the rule of law has taken a knock within the very institution which is supposed to uphold and enforce this fundamental principle for dispensing justice: the country’s judiciary. On Dec 11, Zhang Keke, a lawyer in China’s northeastern province of Jilin, was hauled away from a court where he invoked the constitutional rights of free speech and religion while defending a member of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong, reported the AP Dec 12.
The lawyer had been warned by the judge not to invoke the law when defending his client, the report cited another lawyer, named as Zhang Lei, as saying. Zhang Keke was detained for six hours over his statements in court.
At least 260 Chinese lawyers have signed an open letter drafted by Zhang Lei to condemn the police action, the report said. Among other things, the open letter called on the government to honour its pledge to implement the rule of law.
“How can a lawyer not speak of law in court? We have found it to be too absurd,” Zhang Lei was quoted as saying. “It violated the basic rights of lawyers.”
China has increasingly targeted its rights lawyers in recent times. Many have had their law licenses revoked; many have been jailed for their legal activism. They have also been accused, in recent times, of harbouring ill political intentions instead of practicing their profession within China’s legal framework, the report noted.