Tag Archives: European Union

China/UK/US/Germany etc: Wives of Detained Chinese Lawyers Meet With Foreign Diplomats

January 10, 2019

Li Wenzu (4th from L), wife detained Chinese rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, and Wang Qiaoling (5th from L), wife of rights lawyer Li Heping, pose with a group of Western diplomats in Beijing, Jan. 9, 2019.

The wife of detained Chinese rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who has been held incommunicado without trial since 2015, has met with foreign diplomats together with Wang Qiaoling, wife of rights lawyer Li Heping, RFA has learned.

Yesterday morning, I and Wang Qiaoling met with diplomats in charge of human rights from … the U.K., U.S., Germany, the E.U., Switzerland and Austria,” Wang’s wife Li Wenzu told RFA on Thursday.

“Wang Quanzhang has been detained for three-and-a-half years, and I still know nothing about the trial,” she said. “I am starting to get very worried and anxious, because there has been no new information during the past couple of weeks.”

Li said the conversation had largely focused on her message to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

“I wanted them to pass on a very clear demand from me to the Chinese government, that the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court issue its verdict immediately,” she said.

“The [trial] ended … so the fact that they still haven’t issued a verdict indicates that they want to drag things out still longer, until everyone has forgotten about the whole thing,” Li said.

“They will then deal with the case when nobody is thinking about it any more,” she said.

Li said state security police had issued the families of rights lawyers and activists detained in a nationwide crackdown since July 2015 with the same warning; not to meet with foreign diplomats.

“The state security police wants the relatives to abide by four prohibitions, the most important of which was that we shouldn’t meet with diplomats,” she said. “But our situation would be far worse if it weren’t for international attention on the July 2015 cases.”








https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20190118/454190852176/la-lucha-sin-pelo-de-la-activista-li-wenzu-contra-una-china-sin-ley.html?fbclid=IwAR38wGVF3lPf6b-_mAYyXG2MlRZb4gbv7rs9LH2pLjTqRHZ6rRBlLiK8tig (ESPANOL)

https://www.eldiario.es/politica/lucha-activista-Li-Wenzu-China_0_858464255.html (ESPANOL)

https://sverigesradio.se/sida/gruppsida.aspx?programid=3304&grupp=6240&artikel=7126235&fbclid=IwAR0fDHk-Tv-Oph5vuNBbRkOeLlY2oDCSyfoQW8B4-Fmk8mPYqRqKuC3Zl1o (SVENSKA)

During the Edelstam Prize 2018 award ceremony, the Chinese sign for love was exposed, and all persons engaged in organizing the ceremony, wore the Chinese sign for love on their hearts. The theme of love and happiness pervaded the whole ceremony, especially in the end when children sang “We are the world,” everyone holding a red bucket with the Chinese sign of love to show support for Li Wenzu, responsible for organizing the important “Red Bucket Protest,” which took place on July 7, 2017 in front of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate in Beijing. All the guests received a red chocolate heart when leaving the ceremony.
During the “Red Bucket Protest,” the wives of the detained human rights lawyers gathered in front of the Procuratorate in bright and red clothes with red accessories and red buckets, a color of love and happiness, to publicize their demand for information and access to the prisoners. On their dresses they had printed their husband’s names and messages of love. All the participants in the protest were finally detained, some of them badly beaten. Diplomats were not allowed into the Procuratorate.

(The Edelstam Prize  29/10/19)


Egypt/EU: Human rights violations in Egypt: EU must speak out!

December 20, 2018

The EU should be aware of plans to amend the Egyptian Constitution that could extend the power of the President indefinitely, showing the true intentions of an authoritarian state, writes Wahid Al-Asmar.

Wadih Al-Asmar is President of EuroMed Rights.

Last week, the European Parliament took a courageous stance by adopting an urgent resolution on Egypt, strongly condemning continuous restrictions on fundamental democratic rights in the country.

This week, on 20 December, EU high level representatives, including HR/VP Federica Mogherini, will meet with their Egyptian counterparts, for the EU-Egypt Association Council.

EuroMed Rights joins the European Parliament resolution’s call to maintain a strong and unified position on human rights at the EU-Egypt Association Council. The EU should not miss this crucial opportunity to denounce Egypt’s appalling human rights track record loudly and clearly. Silence on the EU’s part will be taken as an endorsement by the Egyptian authorities.

As the Association Council will review the state of EU-Egypt bilateral relations, dialogue on the protection and promotion of human rights should not be overlooked. As stressed in the EU guidelines on human rights, the issue of human rights, democracy and the rule of law must be discussed at the highest level and not only buried in technical documents.

Indeed, Egypt is far from being a democratic state and the elections of March 2018 have shown that no space is left for meaningful political opposition or critical media reporting.

EuroMed Rights is extremely worried about plans to amend the Egyptian Constitution that could extend the power of the President indefinitely, showing the true intentions of an authoritarian state. This goes hand in hand with the generalised crackdown on Egyptian civil society and activists conducted in recent years by Egyptian authorities.

Mass arrests, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, travel bans, asset freezes, and closure of independent NGOs: there is no limit to the repression. One of the latest examples is the enforced disappearance of human rights lawyer Ezzat Ghoneim, missing since September 2018.






https://www.atlantico.fr/node/3561913 (FRANCAIS)

China: Petition letter: immediate release of lawyer Wang Quanzhang

December 10, 2018


Petition letter: immediate release of lawyer Wang Quanzhang


Your Excellency,

As a group of various lawyer’s associations from around the world, we are deeply concerned about the physical and mental health situation of our fellow colleague, lawyer Wang Quanzhang.

According to our sources, lawyer Wang Quanzhang was seized by police on 3 August 2015 in the context of the ‘709 crackdown’ and was charged in January 2016 for allegedly ‘subversion of state power’. At the time of writing, he has been held incommunicado for over three years without any form of due process, and risks further deterioration of his health condition while in detention.

In particular, we understand that lawyer Wang Quanzhang was not given access to an independent legal counsellor of his choosing. He has been denied access to his family lawyer, who was allegedly intimidated into withdrawing from his case. We remain concerned about risks of exposure to torture and ill-treatment as reported by the United Nations Committee against Torture during their review of China in October 2015.

In addition, we understand that no evidence of any form or shape has substantiated the charges put against him. As practicing lawyers, we reiterate that this would be the basis of any proper prosecution.

We further understand that, despite the fact that lawyer Wang Quanzhang had no medical conditions at the time of his disappearance, he has been made to take medication to treat high blood pressure. We are worried about the deterioration of Wang’s health due to forced medicationbased on the past experience of 709 victims suffering from the same problem.

Lastly, we express our concern with regard to measures of intimidation and harassment imposed to his wife, Li Wenzu and to their child. Since his arrest, they have been denied the right to visit him and have been subject to pressure from local authorities.

We understand that, among the 321 lawyers, rights activists and their family membersaffected in the context of the 709 crackdown, lawyer Wang Quanzhang is the only one who has been neither tried nor released. His wife Li Wenzu has filed 30 suits against the court demanding a trial for her husband, in line with Chinese law, but to no avail.

We are profoundly concerned about lawyer Wang, and all the other lawyers who face continuous harassment simply for the exercise of their mandate as legal professional and defenders of the basic rights of citizens.









Vingt associations et barreaux d’avocats demandent la libération de l’avocat chinois Wang Quanzhang

(Genève, le 10 décembre 2018) Dans une lettre adressée aux autorités chinoises en marge du 70ème anniversaire de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’Homme et à l’initiative de la Commission des droits de l’Homme de l’Ordre des avocats de Genève, 20 associations et barreaux d’avocats du monde entier demandent la libération immédiate de l’avocat chinois Wang Quanzhang, détenu au secret en Chine depuis plus de trois ans pour « subversion du pouvoir d’État ».

L’avocat chinois Wang Quanzhang a été arrêté par la police le 3 août 2015 dans le cadre de l’opération policière “répression 709” au cours de laquelle 321 avocats et défenseurs des droits de l’Homme ont été arrêtés. Inculpé en janvier 2016 pour « subversion du pouvoir d’État », Wang Quanzhang est le dernier des avocats touchés par la « répression 709 » à n’avoir été ni jugé, ni libéré. Son épouse Li Wenzu a intenté 30 actions en justice afin de demander un procès pour son mari, conformément à la loi chinoise. Au demeurant, elle et son fils font l’objet de mesures d’intimidation et de harcèlement et se sont vu refuser le droit de lui rendre visite.

Détenu au secret depuis plus de trois ans et sans aucune forme de procédure régulière, Wang Quanzhang n’a pas eu accès à un avocat indépendant de son choix. Il s’est vu refuser l’accès à l’avocat de sa famille, qui aurait été intimidé et contraint de se retirer de l’affaire. De plus, son état de santé se détériore par le fait de la prise forcée de médicaments contre l’hypertension artérielle, alors même qu’il n’avait aucun problème médical au moment de sa disparition.

Les signataires de la lettre expriment leur vive préoccupation face à la situation de Wang Quanzhang et face au harcèlement continu dont font l’objet de nombreux autres avocats chinois parce qu’ils exercent leur mandat en tant que professionnels du droit et défenseurs des droits fondamentaux. Par conséquent, les groupes signataires appellent les autorités chinoises à :
– Libérer sans délai l’avocat Wang Quanzhang et les personnes détenues pour avoir exercé leurs droits fondamentaux ou pour avoir défendu l’exercice de ces droits par des tiers ;
– Mettre fin à toute forme de harcèlement à l’encontre de Li Wenzu, son épouse, et de leur enfant, et condamner tout harcèlement futur des familles des avocats détenus par les autorités locales.

– Garantir une procédure régulière et un procès équitable à tous les avocats détenus et reconnaître publiquement le travail important qu’ils accomplissent pour défendre les droits fondamentaux des citoyens chinois, principalement les droits économiques, sociaux et culturels ;

– Protéger Wang Quanzhang et tous les défenseurs des droits de l’Homme en Chine contre tout harcèlement, intimidation et/ou représailles dans l’exercice de leur profession et des activités légitimes de défense des droits de l’Homme ;

– Coopérer utilement avec les experts internationaux compétents, notamment le Haut-Commissariat aux droits de l’Homme et le Rapporteur spécial des Nations Unies sur l’indépendance des juges et des avocats, afin de modifier toutes les lois et politiques qui restreignent la capacité des avocats à exercer librement et efficacement leur profession dans le but de les rendre conformes aux normes internationales et aux obligations et engagements internationaux de la Chine.

Liste des 20 associations et barreaux signataires :

– Ordre des avocats de Genève
– International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
– International Association of Lawyers
– Association of the Bar of the City of New York
– Barra Mexicana, Colegio de Abogados (Mexican Bar Association)
– The Swedish Bar Association
– Commission des affaires européennes et internationales du Conseil National des Barreaux français
– The Commonwealth Lawyers Association
– The Law Society of England & Wales
– Lawyers for Lawyers
– Progressive Lawyers Group Hong Kong
– China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group
– Human Rights Committee of the Taipei Bar Association
– Judicial Reform Foundation Taiwan
– Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network
– Deutscher Anwalt Verein (German Bar Association)
– Colegio de Abogados de Costa Rica
– Ankara Bar Association
– Ordre van Vlaamse Balies (Belgian flemish bar association)
– The Bar Council of London

A propos de la Commission des droits de l’Homme de l’Ordre des avocats de Genève

La Commission des droits de l’Homme de l’Ordre des avocats de Genève oeuvre en faveur des droits de l’Homme tant en Suisse qu’à l’étranger par le biais d’interventions diverses telles que des missions d’observation judiciaire et des interpellations écrites ou orales, notamment auprès des autorités. Elle effectue également un travail de sensibilisation aux problématiques liées aux droits de l’Homme et à la défense de la défense par le biais de conférences, rencontres et publications.

Pour plus d’informations :
Lionel Halpérin
Bâtonnier de l’Ordre des avocats de Genève
Tél. +41 22 839 70 00
Jean-Jacques Martin
Membre de la Commission des droits de l’Homme de l’Ordre des avocats de Genève
Tél. + 41 22 318 98 98
Elisabeth Tripod-Fatio
Service de presse
Tél. + 41 78 724 48 66

Poland/EU: EU and Poland In Fight Over ‘Heart and Soul’ of Europe

September 19, 2018

In Poland, demonstrators are dressing famous statues in a white T-shirt with a single word emblazoned on them: “Constitution.”

It’s a protest that goes to the heart of a deepening constitutional conflict in Poland, where the ruling nationalist right-wing party is accused of tightening an authoritarian grip on the country’s judicial system while also stifling dissenting voices and fomenting far-right nationalism.

The battle over the direction of Poland and its legal system is now at the center of European Union politics too.

“I think this is a fight about the heart and soul of Europe,” said Frans Timmermans, a top EU commissioner, late Tuesday at a news conference in Brussels.

“The fundamental question is [whether] the rule of law [is] a fundamental principle of how this union is organized – yes or no?” he told reporters.

This fight has been in the making since 2015 when the Law and Justice party won Polish elections, and became the first government with a clear parliamentary majority in post-communist Poland.

Since its victory, the party has passed a series of laws and measures that critics say undermine the rule of law and target opposition voices. The government’s supporters say it was necessary to overhaul a flawed justice system ruled by a caste of corrupt judges.

Last December, the European Commission took the unprecedented step to trigger sanctions proceedings against Poland because of these moves. Poland became an EU member in 2004.

After the November 2015 election, the Polish government annulled the appointment of five judges to the constitutional tribunal nominated by the previous legislature. Replacements were then appointed by the new government.

After that, the Polish parliament approved other changes that the EU and the judicial establishment say undermined the independence of the Polish justice system.

The changes have given the government more control of common courts, the constitutional court, the supreme court and the final appeals court for civil and criminal cases.

The most controversial change lowered the retirement age for supreme court judges from 70 to 65. This has had the effect of forcing about 27 the court’s 73 judges into retirement.








https://www.medelnet.eu/index.php/news/europe/460-medel-statement-on-the-suspension-of-the-polish-judiciary-council-by-the-encj (ENGLISH & FRANCAIS)

https://www.rtbf.be/info/monde/detail_etat-de-droit-en-pologne-la-situation-est-plus-urgente-que-jamais-selon-paris-et-berlin?id=10022609 (FRANCAIS)

Poland/EU: Poland ploughs through with controversial judicial reforms

August 23, 2018

Ignoring objections at home and from the European Union, Poland has decided to go ahead with the appointment of new judges to the Supreme Court.

“We’re speeding things up as much as we can,” judge Leszek Mazur told reporters on August 21.

Mazur is the new head of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), a body overseeing judicial impartiality whose composition was changed as part of the reforms.

As reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party had introduced the forced early retirement of judges over the age of 65 as part of a raft of controversial judicial reforms that have drawn concern from Brussels.

The PiS insists the judicial changes tackle corruption and overhaul a judicial system still haunted by Poland’s communist era.

But the opposition, democracy watchdogs and the European Union have warned they undermine judicial independence, the rule of law and democracy.






https://www.actualitesdudroit.fr/browse/penal/international/15262/pologne-nominations-accelerees-de-juges-a-la-cour-supreme-en-depit-d-objections-de-bruxelles (FRANCAIS)

Iran: 60 European MPs Call on President Rouhani to Work For Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Release

August 22, 2018

On August 22, 2018, 60 members of the European Parliament (MEP) called on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to “do all within your power to ensure” the “unconditional release” of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. A 2012 recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Sotoudeh has been detained since June 13, 2018. Having formerly served three years in prison for peacefully defending her clients in the Iranian judicial system, Sotoudeh is currently facing many more years behind prison under several national security charges. Following is the letter sent by MEP Marietje Schaake to President Rouhani.


Brussel, 22 August 2018

Honourable President Rouhani,

We write to express our deep concern about the continued detention of Sakharov laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh. She was arrested in June of this year to serve a five-year prison sentence for previously unreleased charges, apparently solely because of her human rights work.

Last week it was revealed that Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing new charges, reportedly including charges of espionage, which is an extremely worrying development. Her case signifies that the Iranian judiciary continues to criminalise legitimate human rights activism.

We urge you to call on the judiciary to respect due process and disclose information about the charges that Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing, and we call on you to do all within your power to ensure her unconditional release.







https://www.radiofarda.com/a/eu-mp-nasrin-setodeh/29448002.html (FARSI)

https://liberationpolular.wordpress.com/2018/08/22/%CE%B1%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%B7%CE%BB%CE%B5%CE%B3%CE%B3%CF%8D%CE%B7-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B9%CF%82-%CE%B9%CF%81%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%AD%CF%82-%CF%80%CE%BF%CE%BB%CE%B9%CF%84%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AD%CF%82-%CE%BA%CF%81%CE%B1/ (GREEK)

https://kjarninn.is/frettir/2018-08-22-mannrettindalogfraedingur-handtekinn/ (ICELANDISH)

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Poland/EU: Polish judges set to be suspended from European network

August 17, 2018

Warsaw has repeatedly clashed with Brussels over changes to its judicial system.

An organization representing Europe’s judiciaries has moved to suspend the Polish Council for the Judiciary (KRS) on the basis it lacks independence from the executive in Warsaw.

The board of the European Network of Councils of the Judiciary (ENCJ) put forward the proposal to suspend its Polish member, to be voted on at a meeting September 17.

“The Board considers that the KRS is no longer the guardian of the independence of the judiciary in Poland,” the ENCJ wrote in a detailed opinion. “It seems instead to be an instrument of the executive.”

The ENCJ represents judiciaries from across the EU, and it acts as an advisory body to EU institutions. Its Polish member, the KRS, is the body responsible for selecting Poland’s judges.

Chairman of the KRS Leszek Mazur told Polish news site Onet: “We consider these actions as unauthorized and unjust.” Stating that a decision to exclude Polish judges “would be extremely regrettable,” Mazur said, “Let us hope that we will be able to appeal against such a decision.”

In January, a new law came into effect in Poland under which judicial members of the KRS are no longer selected by their peers but rather by the parliament. KRS members originally vehemently opposed the new law, but following the change its chairman issued a letter to the ENCJ defending the shift in how it functions.

But the international body deemed the legal changes are problematic.











http://www.bruxelles2.eu/2018/08/18/lappel-au-secours-de-la-presidente-de-la-cour-supreme-de-pologne/ (FRANCAIS)