January 5, 2017
Approximately 300,000 lawyers are practising in China. Lawyers in China are closely monitored by the State for their work. Apart from direct intervention from the judicial bureaus and the lawyers association, lawyers are kept under control also by a controversial Annual Inspection system. In order to continue their practice, lawyers have to submit their lawyer’s licence to the judicial bureau, the executive branch of the judiciary, for inspection on an annual basis. They will be scrutinised for the cases they handled, especially the so-called “politically sensitive” ones, which are often with human rights and/or rule of law implications. A lawyer who fails the inspection will not be given a stamp on his or her licence. The stamp, which is an administrative measure and without legal basis, will determine if a lawyer can continue his or her practice in the following year. The authorities may also suspend the lawyer’s practice by holding the licence for a prolonged period of time, hence stopping the lawyer from practising.
In their daily practice, lawyers also encounter harassment and intimidation by the public security officers, a special branch of the police, and by the courts. They could be forbidden to meet their clients and/or to have access to files, often and again for the so-called politically sensitive cases. Situations of this kind may result in lawyers being criminally detained or subjected to violence if they insist that their procedural rights or due process be observed. Other measures against the rights of lawyers include forcing them and their family to constantly move home and/or forbidding them from travelling outside the country.
DAY OF THE ENDANGERED LAWYER JANUARY 24, 2017 (CHINA):