December 12, 2016
The Law Society of Upper Canada* expresses grave concern about the sentencing of human rights lawyer Xia Lin in China.
Xia Lin is a prominent human rights lawyer whose clients include Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, fellow human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, and human rights defender Guo Yushan. On September 22, 2016, Xia Lin was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
In November 2014, Xia Lin was detained by Beijing police. He was charged with fraudulently obtaining 10 million yuan – later reduced to 4.8 million yuan. Xia Lin’s trial commenced in June 2016. It is our understanding that the charges against Xia Lin were based on allegations that he had coerced individuals to lend him money to pay off gambling debts. Xia Lin pleaded not guilty to the charges and the individuals he is alleged to have borrowed money from have not filed criminal or civil suits against him.
The Law Society is deeply concerned about Xia Lin’s case. Reports indicate that since July 2015, approximately 250 Chinese human rights lawyers and activists have been questioned, detained or charged. We believe strongly that lawyers should be able to exercise their legitimate duties without fear for their lives, for their liberty and for their security.
The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of the People’s Republic of China to comply with China’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
DAY OF THE ENDANGERED LAWYER JANUARY 24, 2017 (CHINA):