Day of the Endangered Lawyer: 2017: PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

Day of the Endangered Lawyer

On January 24th, 2017 – the seventh year of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer- the focus will be on China. Lawyering could be a highly risky profession in China especially for human rights lawyers. In the absence of an independent judicial system, the 300,000-odd lawyers in China are subject to close monitoring by the authorities in their work. Rights lawyers who insist in taking up cases with human rights implications, in procedural justice and refuse to succumb to the government’s intervention in their case-handling are prone to even greater risk of harassment and suppression. They are subject to the control of the authorities via both legal and non-legal means.

In the summer of the 2015, a crackdown on rights lawyers in an unprecedented scale took place in China. The incident is now commonly known as the 709 Crackdown to commemorate the date of 9 July when the first lawyer was taken away by police in the early hours of the day. The crackdown has drawn extensive outcry and criticisms from the international communities including many lawyers groups and bar associations from around the world. By far, over 300 lawyers and civil society activists have been impacted. They have either been detained, temporarily detained, harassed, interrogated or banned from travelling out of the country. Among the lawyers subsequently arrested and prosecuted, many have been detained incommunicado, without being allowed to meet their defence counsels of their or their family’s choosing. Some of the detained lawyers have been reported being tortured. In early August, one of the detained lawyers was trialed and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for “subverting state power”

As of 17 October 2016, 6 rights lawyers have remained in detention pending for trial. They are Li Heping, Wang Quanzhang, Xie Yang, Xie Yangyi, Li Chunfu and Liu Sixin (pdf). Apart those who have been impacted by the 709 Crackdown, it is also important that the international community remember a few other rights who have been sentenced to jail for exercising their civil and political rights:

http://dayoftheendangeredlawyer.eu/

https://www.facebook.com/events/374243992921815/

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