Int’l bar urges end to China’s abuse of rights lawyers

Xu Yan, the wife of human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, outside the Xuzhou intermediate peoples court in Xuzhou. He was detained in 2018 and tried in a closed door trial. (Photo courtesy: The Guardian)

(, Dec12’19) – International Bar Association (IBA), a London- based association of international legal practitioners, bar associations, and law societies with a membership of more than 80,000 individual lawyers and 190 bar associations and law societies, has on Dec 11 denounced the abuse of human rights lawyers in China, citing torture, imprisonment, surveillance and harassment, reported

In a joint letter sent to China’s Ministry of Justice and the All China Lawyers Association, the IBA’s Human Rights Institute has said that lawyers were being ‘forcefully “disappeared”’, incarcerated and tortured by Chinese authorities. It has added that lawyers who were freed from prison were often monitored, deprived of the right to vote and the right to travel abroad, with their families being also mistreated.

The letter, signed by more than 20 international human rights organisations, was quoted as saying: ‘Over the past 40 years, China has repeatedly promised to reform the Chinese legal system. While there has been much modernisation on mechanisms pertaining to civil and commercial law, the current legal system has yet to meet the minimum standards of international human rights law; in fact, during this period, China’s human rights record has significantly deteriorated.’

The letter was stated to have referred to the 2015 ‘709 crackdown’, during which lawyers were targeted, questioned and detained by state security agents. Some victims of the crackdown are believed to be still in prison.

The IBA has urged Beijing to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to restore the freedom of all lawyers that had been imprisoned or detained for political reasons. It has also called on China to ban all forms of torture in detention and incarceration.

The letter came in the backdrop of the Beijing-backed All China Lawyers Association hosting the Global Lawyers Forum earlier this week. It was meant to be an opportunity for China to review its legal and judicial system. Some 600 international guests were invited and the chair of the Bar Council, Richard Atkins QC, attended the event, the report noted.

IBA was founded in 1947 and has regional offices in Washington, DC, United States; Seoul, South Korea; and São Paulo, Brazil.


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