February 11, 2016
Lawyers’ organisations around the world marked another Day of the Endangered Lawyer on 22 January. The purpose of the event is to call attention to threatened human rights lawyers around the world. The first such day was organised in 2010 and it has gained momentum since.
In a statement released to acknowledge the day, New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore expressed the Law Society’s support for lawyers around the world who risk harassment, persecution, and injury or death in their work.
Mr Moore said New Zealand was highly ranked for its adherence to the rule of law and institutions which uphold human rights.
“An important part of this is the ability to criticise aspects of the justice system, to advocate for change, and for lawyers to represent their clients without fear of arrest or violence. Sadly this is not so for members of the legal profession in some other parts of the world.”
More than six months after the 9 July 2015 attack (“the 709 crackdown”) on the legal profession, Chinese lawyers are still missing, detained, held under residential surveillance or forbidden from leaving China. A joint statement by 115 worldwide organisations on 14 January 2016 noted that 14 lawyers and 22 human rights defenders are still being confined, with some having disappeared, and another 33 are banned from leaving the country. Bodies such as the United Nations Committee Against Torture and the International Bar Association continue to express deep concern at the treatment of the legal profession in China.
In mid-January 2016 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders stated that human rights lawyer Shu Xiangxin had appeared before a criminal court on 8 January accused of defamation. He was sentenced to six months in prison and his lawyer’s licence was revoked. During the 30-minute trial Mr Shu’s defence lawyers were not allowed in court. He has been refused medical treatment and has been beaten and tortured by police while in custody.