Holding China Accountable for Its Failures to Honor its Commitments

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Holding China Accountable for Its Failures to Honor its Commitments to International Human Rights:

Appeal to the UN’s Human Rights Bodies on Behalf of Chen Guangcheng,

Calling for Urgent Action and Country Visit

Chen Guangcheng, male, 35, the blind self-taught lawyer and human rights activist, who became internationally known for his role in providing legal council to victims and exposing abuses associated with the enforcement of birth quotas in Linyi City, Shandong Province, was held under house arrest, together with his wife Yuan Weijin, for more than six months, from September 2005 to March 2006, the maximum allowed under the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law. Authorities never issued a decision for Chen to be held under “residential surveillance.” His detention was illegal in the first place. On March 11, 2006, when he protested police beating of a supporter, he was detained for investigation on suspicion of destroying property and gathering crows blocking traffic. After the legal term for such a detention had long passed, on June 10, 2006, authorities issued a formal detention order, and on June 21, a formal arrest warrant. Chen now faces charges of destroying property and blocking traffic. Meanwhile, his wife remains under house arrest without any legal authorization.

Efforts to mount legal challenges to Chen’s detention and arrest and to the repeated use of violence in enforcing his incarceration had been stalled for months. The local court ignored a lawsuit Chen filed against officials involved in the violence. His lawyers had been prevented from visiting him and under pressure not to continue representing him. Lawyers only visited Chen for the first time since he was first put under house arrest on September 7, 2005, at the Yinan detention center on June 21, 2006. But the lawyers continue to be harassed when they try to contact Chen’s wife and villagers to collect evidence and prepare for the trial.

In March 2006, CRD submitted information, prepared with Chen’s lawyers, to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders raising these points and asking for intervention in Chen’s case since domestic avenues to resolve it appear to be blocked.

On June 21-23, members of Chinese civil society (e.g., lawyers, civil society organizations, activists) delivered an updated petition on behalf of Chen to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. (A further updated version is attached.)

We take this opportunity to request the WGAD to use its “urgent action” procedure to work towards obtaining Mr. Chen’s freedom. We believe there is sufficiently reliable information that Mr. Chen, who has been blind since the age of one, is being detained arbitrarily and the continuation of the detention may constitute a serious danger to his health or even life. We urge the WGAD to send an urgent appeal to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, requesting that the Chinese government “should release Chen and take appropriate measures to ensure that the detained person’s right to life and to physical and mental integrity are respected.”

We request the Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders to act on this urgent action letter, in which we communicate information about an ongoing violation. We hope that the Special Representative will inform the Chinese authorities as quickly as possible of Mr. Chen’s case so that they can intervene to end the violation. Given the increasingly dangerous conditions for Chinese human rights defenders in general and the government’s policy of targeting them in its efforts to pave the way for the 2008 Olympics and next year’s 7 th Central Communist Party Congress, we have also asked the Special Representative to conduct an official visit to China to examine in detail the situation of human rights defenders like Mr. Chen Guangcheng.

We also urge the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to act on the information we submitted regarding violations concerning the independence of the legal profession by sending allegation letters and urgent appeals to the Chinese government to clarify and/or bring this case to their attention. The Chen case is one of many cases where the independence of the legal profession is under grave threat. We also invite the Special Rapporteur to conduct a country visit to China to examine the threats and harassment facing all Chinese human rights lawyers.

The submission is prepared with the assistance of the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CRD), co-signed by lawyers representing Mr. Chen Guangcheng and activists. It was hand-delivered by representatives of the Chinese civil society to the UN human rights bodies in Geneva during the opening week of the first session of the UN Human Rights Council.


For further information, contact:

Biao, Teng

Beijing Huayi Law Firm

Phone:86- 13241918519

Li, Jian

Civil Rights Defense Network

Phone: 86-411-87530776

Wan, Yanhai

Director, Beijing AIZHIXING Institute

Phone: 86-10-88114625

Renee Xia

International coordinator, Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CRD)

Phone: 852 8125 7553

Email: admin@chinese-rights-defenders.net

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