Chinese human rights lawyers detained

17 July 2015

HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS DETAINED - BAR COUNCIL OPEN LETTER

Link to letter from the Chairman of the Bar to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, 16 June

The Bar of England and Wales is working to secure the release of at least 15 Chinese human rights lawyers who it is believed have been detained against their will since 13 July.

The disappearance of prominent human rights lawyer Wang Yu was confirmed last week, and reports indicate that many more lawyers, from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have been detained or questioned by state authorities.

Chairman of the Bar, Alistair MacDonald QC has written to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to demand the release of those detained as well as disclosure as to their whereabouts and a guarantee that they have access to families and lawyers to ensure they are not at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

Speaking to the media, Alistair MacDonald QC said:  "Lawyers play a crucial role in ensuring the protection of human rights. When a lawyer is subject to punishment for representing a client, the client's right to access to justice and a fair trial is denied and the rule of law is threatened.

"Every Government is obliged to ensure lawyers are not persecuted by state security or enforcement agencies for doing their jobs. This is enshrined in the UN 1990 Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. "

 "This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Bar Council China Training Scheme which has now trained over 300 young Chinese lawyers in English legal principles, including the rule of law and human rights. We therefore urge the Chinese government to afford all Chinese lawyers the professional rights to which they are entitled."

 The Bar Council has offered its assistance to the All China Lawyers Association and has copied the letter to the Attorney General of England and Wales, the Rt Hon Jeremy Wright, QC MP and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP.
 

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Notes to editors:

1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

2. The  Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board