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Large number of lawyers – L4L letter


In an open letter to President Xi Jinping, 24 organisations, including L4L, have strongly condemned the recent unprecedented and seemingly well-coordinated detention campaign of a large number of human rights lawyers in China (see the Chinese version of the letter here). The wave of arrests followed the disappearance of lawyer Wang Yu on 9 July 2015. As of 21 July, a total of at least 242 lawyers, law firm staff and human rights defenders have been detained, arrested, held incommunicado, summoned, or otherwise had their freedom temporarily restricted.

Many of those detained were part of a group of over 100 lawyers and rights activists who signed a public statement on 9 July 2015 condemning Wang Yu’s disappearance.

In addition, the organisations have noted that official media reports have pro-actively portrayed a number of detained ‘suspects’ as criminals, including a recent CCTV 13 news report describing recent human rights lawyer advocacy campaigns as ‘rights-defence-style trouble-making’.

These events make it impossible to take President’s Xi Jinping’s recent claims to be promoting the rule of law seriously, as they rigorously violate many international standards.

The organisations call upon the Chinese government to ensure that all of the detained, who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, should be immediately released. If they are not immediately released, the government should at least disclose their whereabouts and ensure that they have prompt and regular access to their lawyers and family.

Furthermore, those arrested should be protected from any future control measures typically used against human rights lawyers in China such as: tracking and following; violent attacks; soft detention; ‘being travelled’; being asked to have ‘chats’; being placed under criminal, administrative, or judicial detention; being subjected to enforced disappearance, torture or psychiatric incarceration.

Last Thursday 16 July, several UN human rights experts, including the Special Rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers, the situation of human rights defenders and the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, called on the Chinese authorities to stop the targeted police harassment and intimidation.

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