Heilongjiang activist, Yang Chunlin, denied access to lawyer, at risk of torture and ill-treatment

Comments Off on Heilongjiang activist, Yang Chunlin, denied access to lawyer, at risk of torture and ill-treatment

Heilongjiang activist, Yang Chunlin, denied access to lawyer, at risk of torture and ill-treatment

(Heilongjiang, September 21, 2007) Detained Heilongjiang activist, Yang Chunlin (杨春林), is still denied access to a lawyer after more than two and a half months in custody.

On September 18, Yang’s family went to Heitong Police Detention Centre in Heilongjiang where he is being held. When asked why Yang has not yet been granted access to a lawyer, the police replied, “Who asked you to hire a lawyer? Without our permission, you cannot do so!” The police also denied the family’s request to see him. The police gave no further explanation of why he has been denied his right of access to legal counsel or of how long he will be held incommunicado.

When asked whether Yang had been beaten while in custody, the police replied, “One or two slaps he may have suffered, not more. He was beaten by inmates because he was nosy and tried to intervene when a new inmate was beaten by other inmates.” His family received no information regarding how serious the beating was, nor whether or not he was injured. His family worries about his well-being and safety in prison, and that he may be forced to confess. In the first days of detention, police had taken Yang home and tried to get his family to convince him to confess, which did not work. That was when Yang’s family noticed wounds in his head and other parts of his body.

CHRD is seriously concerned about Yang’s situation and the violation of his right to legal counsel. Since early September, the police have denied his lawyer’s requests to meet him because his case involves “state secrets,” a vague term which has been arbitrarily invoked in many cases in China. Since there is no clear legal boundary as to when and under what circumstances the police can claim a case involves “state secrets,” in practice, police have wide powers of interpretation in deciding to detain suspects. According to General Provision Article 5 of the PRC State Secrets Protection Law, the State Secrets Protection Bureau (国家保密局) is the authority responsible for state secrets; thus, the Public Security Bureau has no right to make such a decision. The Chinese laws barring legal access to those accused of state-secret-related crimes violate international conventions such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed, as well as the Chinese constitution. They also violate the 1995 Johannesburg Principle, an international guideline regarding criminal procedure related to state secrets.

Yang Chunlin (杨春林), a resident of Jiamusi City (佳木斯市), Heilongjiang Province, was detained on July 6 and formally arrested on August 13 on suspicion of “subversion of state power” because he collected signatures to endorse an open letter entitled “We Want Human Rights, not the Olympics”.

Click here for more background information.

Back to Top