Daily Archives: 19/02/2016

China: China’s New Age of Fear

February 18, 2016

China’s New Age of Fear

In the three-plus years since Xi Jinping assumed leadership of China, observers and scholars of the country have increasingly coalesced around the idea that his term in office has coincided with a shift in the tone, if not the practice, of Chinese politics. Earlier this week, legal scholar Eva Pils, writing for the University of Nottingham, cited televised confessions, abductions, new legislation on national security, changes to criminal procedure, and surveillance of civil society organizations among other developments in the political sphere that to her constitute “the rise of rule by fear.” In an essay last week, political scientist Minxin Pei, used the phrase “rule of fear” to describe a similar list of recent events, including disappearances of business leaders and booksellers and anxiety among government bureaucrats, in his assessment that China is engaged in a “revival of totalitarian scare tactics.” China, Pei wrote, “is once again gripped by fear in a way it has not been since the era of Mao Zedong,” who ruled China with an iron grip from the 1949 founding the People’s Republic until his death in 1976. How apt is this characterization? What does it mean for the prospects of political and economic reform in China? And how, if at all, should it change U.S. policy?
— The ChinaFile Editors

Eva Pils, author of China’s Human Rights Lawyers: Advocacy and Resistance:

In the course of my research on Chinese human rights lawyers over the past several years, I got to hear a lot about the techniques the government allegedly uses to control them. I came to refer to them as “fear techniques.” They included tracking and following; soft detention; “being traveled”; being asked in for “chats”; criminal, administrative, and judicial detention; violent attacks; forced disappearance; torture and — in one or two particularly disturbing instances — brief spells of medically unmotivated, forced psychiatric detention. Some of these techniques made some reference to legal rules, but in their actual use of these rules against human rights lawyers, the authorities invariably, and quite often egregiously, broke the law.

China’s New Age of Fear

Lesotho: prominent lawyer Khotso Nthontho arrested

February 19, 2016

 Lawyer Khotso Nthontho was arrested and released on Friday 12 February 2016  Lawyers representing 23 soldiers accused of mutiny continue to be at risk  There is concern for an escalation of threats against the legal community Amsterdam / Vancouver, 19 February 2016 – Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) are concerned about the arrest of lawyer Khotso Nthontho on 12 February 2016 and the ongoing threats against lawyers in Lesotho. Particularly the lawyers representing 23 soldiers accused of plotting a mutiny seem to be at risk. The arrest and release of lawyer Khotso Nthontho Prominent Lesotho lawyer Khotso Nthontho was arrested in the early evening of 12 February 2016, on allegations of perjury. According to the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) it is understood that these allegations relate to Mr. Nthontho’s representation of some of the soldiers charged with mutiny. An urgent High Court Order was obtained for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Nthontho and he was released under heavy security shortly before midnight on 12 February 2016. While he was under arrest, Mr. Nthontho’s family home in Maseru and personal vehicle appear to have been shot, causing serious damage to both. Mr. Nthontho has been formally charged with perjury on 16 February 2016. The case is remanded to 26 February 2016, at which point the court will determine a hearing date.

public – press statement Khotso Nthontho


Lesotho Prominent lawyer Khotso Nthontho arrested


February 19, 2016

Day after men in black robes went on the rampage in the Patiala House Courts again, the Bar Council of India (BCI) on Thursday decided to take action against the unruly lawyers and set up a three-member committee to probe the incidents.

Terming the incidents a “shameful” act by “handful of lawyers”, the BCI “apologised” for misconduct of some lawyers on Wednesday evening ahead of the hearing of the sedition case against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and promised to cancel the licence of the guilty.

BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said, “I seek apology from mediapersons and Kanhaiya Kumar for such mishappenings and misconduct. Strong action will be taken against lawyers, if they are found guilty of indulging in violence at Patiala House Courts. The action includes suspension of their licence for life. Therefore, we can remove name of any of the advocates from the roll of Bar Council for their entire life.


India: Condemn The Harassment Of People’s Lawyers In Jagdalpur

February 19, 2016

A recent urgent appeal issued by the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG) dated 18th February 2016, mentions how the police administration at Jagdalpur has been pressurizing the landlord of the JagLAG office to evict the lawyers. The landlord, who is a driver by profession, was taken to the local police station and his car was impounded. On being brought back by the police personnel, he informed the lawyers that he had no option but to ask them to vacate the premises and office within a week. A similar attempt of eviction is also being done on Malini Subramaniam, a regular contributor for Scroll.in from Bastar. Her husband, housemaid and landlord were summoned to the local police station, after which her landlord too had informed Malini to vacate her rental accommodation. Malini’s car was recently attacked by a state sponsored group- ‘Samajik Ekta Manch’ led by the local legislator. An attempt to punish her for her critical reportage on false encounters and other police excesses.

The Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, known as ‘JagLAG’, came into existence in July 2013 to do legal research and provide legal help to the people of Bastar, Dantewada, Kanker, Sukma, and Bijapur (all districts of Chattisgarh) who regularly face imprisonment and false cases as a consequence of the State’s counter-insurgency operations. Since then they have been providing legal aid- a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution of India, to hundreds of tribals in the region. Due to their persistent work as people’s lawyers they have managed to intervene in cases of blatant Human Rights violations and ensure the acquittal and release of many. However this has also resulted in the State administration vilifying them as ‘Maoist supporters’. In an earlier attempt to evict them, the Bastar Bar Association, under the influence of the police administration, passed an illegal resolution, akin to a fatwa/ khap diktat at their general body meeting prohibiting these lawyers from “outside” from practicing in the Jagdalpur courts. Hence this recent attempt at eviction has to be seen in context of their continuous harassment by the State.



Malaysia: LRWC Applauds Discontinuance of Sedition Act Prosecution of Dr. Azmi Sharom and Calls for Withdrawal of Sedition Charges against Others Wrongly Prosecuted | Press Release

February 18, 2016

LRWC Applauds Discontinuance of Sedition Act prosecution of Dr. Azmi Sharom and calls for withdrawal of sedition charges against others wrongly prosecuted.

On 12 February 2016, Malaysia’s Attorney General dropped charges of sedition against Dr. Azmi Sharom.[1]

LRWC welcomes the discontinuance of the sedition prosecution of Dr. Sharom and calls for the immediate withdrawal of Sedition Act charges against lawyers Eric Paulsen and N. Surendran and others. The Sedition Act is being used by Malaysian authorities to silence and punish critics for being good citizens and voicing opinions about issues of public concern.

In September 2014, Dr. Sharom, a law professor at the University of Malaya, was charged under Section 4(1) (b) and Section 4(1) (c) of the Sedition Act for comments he had allegedly made at a political event five years earlier. The charges were laid after an online news outlet published Dr. Sharom’s legal analysis of a crisis in Malaysia’s Selangor.[2] In expressing shock at this charge, Dr. Azmi stated that his comments were based on established case law and democratic principles.

Malaysia: LRWC Applauds Discontinuance of Sedition Act Prosecution of Dr. Azmi Sharom and Calls for Withdrawal of Sedition Charges against Others Wrongly Prosecuted | Press Release