March 9, 2016
This time last year, Chinese lawyer Wang Yu (王宇) spoke at the Law Society about her work representing human rights defenders in China. Now she is in detention facing charges of subversion.
This week three Chinese human rights lawyers addressed a Law Society audience about the escalating repression in China and the risks and challenges facing lawyers defending themselves and their clients.
Beginning with the detention of Wang Yu and her husband on 9 July 2015, the Chinese authorities staged an unprecedented series of arrests of human rights lawyers. It is estimated that more than 100 human rights lawyers were arrested across China.
Following the mass arrests, president of the Law Society of England and Wales Jonathan Smithers wrote to the Chinese premier Li Keqiang, urgently raising the concerns of the Law Society and calling on him to release the lawyers.
Today the Law Society has reiterated the importance of an independent justice system and for legal professionals to be free from undue restrictions or sanctions.
March 10, 2016
Release International petition calls on Chinese President to free Christian human rights lawyer following televised ‘confession’. Observers say confession ‘bogus’ and made under duress. Release fears crackdown in Zhejiang province could spread across China.
Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world, has launched a petition calling on China’s president Xi Jinping to release the jailed Christian human rights lawyer Zhang Kai.
Release is concerned the cross demolitions in Zhejiang province and the growing crackdown against prominent Christians could spread across China.
The petition calling for Zhang’s release follows a televised ‘confession’ in which the leading lawyer, looking haggard and appearing to read from a script, is made to admit to endangering national security and confess his ‘deep remorse’.
February 26, 2016
The UIA has been informed of the attacks perpetrated against several Lebanese lawyers on February 5, 2016.
It understands that the attacks took place at a time when the lawyers concerned were fulfilling their duties and while they were apparently getting ready to inform their clients of the criminal charge levied against them. Therefore, they were apparently attacked precisely because they were lawyers and because of their actions within the context of discharging their functions.
The UIA wishes to recall and emphasize that lawyers and counsel must be provided protection while discharging their functions.
The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the UN in 1989, recall that as essential agents of the administration of justice and the defence of citizens’ rights, they must be provided special protection.
These principles form part of the instruments for the protection of fundamental rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, as well as Economic and Social Rights, signed in New York in 1977. They implement the protections of the latter covenant with regard to the specific situation of lawyers.