Monthly Archives: September 2015

China: China’s secret detention of lawyers threatens the rule of law

September 29, 2015

Zhang Kai

(Zhang Kai. Photo: Amnesty International.)

The government has paraded detained lawyers on state-run TV to make forced “confessions”, accused some of them of having been part of a “major criminal gang”, intimidated and harassed their family members, and censored almost all news related to this crackdown on social media.

Rounding up human rights lawyers and critics and putting them in secret detention is nothing new in China. What is, is that the Chinese government has now made it “legal”.

“Residential surveillance in a designated place”, as the name of the provision in the Criminal Procedure Law is called, allows the police to hold criminal suspects for up to six months outside of the formal detention system – anything from an apartment to a hotel room or a private building. The suspects are denied legal counsel and any family visits. The police are supposed to notify family members within 24 hours of imposing the measure, but not of their loved-ones whereabouts.

China: Hong Kong university rejects rights lawyer Johannes Chan

September 29, 2015

Prof Johannes Chan addresses press conference in Hong Kong. 23 September 2006

(Prof Johannes Chan is a prominent human rights advocate)

The University of Hong Kong has decided not to appoint a human rights lawyer to one of its senior positions, amid claims of interference from China.

Johannes Chan was rejected even though he had been recommended as pro-vice chancellor by recruitment consultants.

He was associated with last year’s pro-democracy protests that brought Hong Kong’s streets to a standstill.

The BBC’s Juliana Liu in Hong Kong says the move has sparked fears about academic freedom in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s mini-constitution guarantees it a high degree of autonomy from mainland China, including academic freedom and an independent judiciary.

But the university’s governing council has many members perceived as being loyal to the Chinese government, our correspondent adds.

Prof Chan was a close colleague of Benny Tai, a fellow academic at the University of Hong Kong, who initiated last year’s Occupy Central demonstrations.

Iran: IBAHRI renews calls for Iran to release human rights lawyer immediately

September 30, 2015

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) urgently calls on Iran to release human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison in September 2012 on charges which include being awarded the ‘Nuremberg International Human Rights Award’. Furthermore, Mr Soltani’s deteriorating health and the conditions in Evin Prison, where he is currently detained, are of deep concern to IBAHRI.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, IBAHRI Co-Chair said, ‘Abdolfattah Soltani has been in prison for more than three years. The IBAHRI understands that his health is worsening and he is suffering from a number of medical conditions that have not been addressed or treated by prison authorities. We would like to remind the government of Iran that, according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, all imprisoned persons should be treated with respect and in a humane manner. We are deeply concerned by Mr Soltani’s conditions of detention and reiterate our call for his immediate release.’

Mr Soltani, together with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ms Shirin Ebadi, co-founded the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) in 2001. The non-governmental organisation provided pro bono legal counsel to numerous protesters, activists and human rights defenders. In 2008, the DHRC was closed by state authorities. Mr Soltani has been persistently persecuted, and in 2009 the Iranian government prevented him from leaving Iran to collect an award from the city of Nuremberg in recognition of his civil rights work. In 2012, while imprisoned, he was awarded the IBA Human Rights Award for his courage and commitment to the rule of law and human rights in Iran. The Award was collected on his behalf by his daughter Maede Soltani and fellow Iranian lawyer Mahnaz Parakand.

China: Release supporters of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests

September 28, 2015

The Chinese authorities must immediately release eight mainland activists detained for supporting last year’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Amnesty International said on the first anniversary of people taking to the streets in the city.

The shameful prosecution of these activists demonstrates the Chinese authorities’ contempt for freedom of expression, which does not bode well for Hong Kong
William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

Five of the activists, Su Changlan, Chen Qitang, Wang Mo, Xie Wenfei and Zhang Shengyu, have since been formally arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. A sixth person, Sun Feng, has been indicted with the same crime. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

China: Leading China Lawyer Says He Was Tortured

September 27, 2015

In his first interview in five years, leading Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng said he was tortured with an electric baton to his face and spent three years in solitary confinement during his latest period of detention since 2010.

The Nobel Peace Prize nominee also vowed to never leave China despite the hardships and having to live apart from his family.

For years, Gao’s supporters feared he might perish inside a remote Chinese prison. He survived his prison term. But when he was released in August 2014 from prison to house arrest, the formerly outspoken lawyer could barely walk or speak a full, intelligible sentence, raising concerns that one of the most inspirational figures in China’s rights movement had been permanently broken — physically and mentally.

China: Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer back home after detainment

September 26, 2015

Christian human rights group China Aid, which reported this week that prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng had been picked up by the authorities, said it has learned he is now back home.

Gao, 51, asked China Aid’s president to “thank everyone who cares” about him, the group said Friday on its website, adding that Gao is still denied freedom of movement and access to medical care or even a shower.

It said details surrounding his situation remain unclear at the moment.

In August 2014, Gao was released after spending three years in jail for “inciting subversion of state power.”

Before his arrest, Gao was best known for his efforts on behalf of clients whose cases were considered controversial by the Chinese government, including members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and underground Christians, as well as Chinese citizens who opposed government efforts to seize their land or target their business concerns.

India: Lawyers resume strike in Bulandshahr

September 25, 2015

A day after the lawyers’ fraternity in Bulandshahr called off their strike – to protest against the thrashing of an advocate by cops of Kotwali (rural) police station – the strike was resumed over the police’s failure to take action against four cops responsible for the act.

President of the bar association Pawan Kumar Singh told TOI on Friday that a majority of lawyers wanted the strike to be extended till Monday as the police had failed to meet the demands of the association in the case.