Hu Jia on Trial: Rights to Free Speech and Due Process Violated

Comments Off on Hu Jia on Trial: Rights to Free Speech and Due Process Violated

Hu Jia on Trial: Rights to Free Speech and Due Process Violated
CHRD calls for the activist’s immediate and unconditional release

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, March 18, 2008) – The trial of Hu Jia (胡佳), the prominent human rights defender arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” took place today at the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. The court is to announce the verdict at a later date.

Hu’s trial started at 9:30 a.m. During the 4-hour trial, Hu’s lawyers, Li Jingsong (李劲松) and Li Fangping (李方平), were allowed only 20 minutes to speak. The lawyers had not finished reading out their defense when they were cut off by the judge. The lawyers attempted to speak four times after that, but they were immediately stopped each time because, according to the judge, their arguments were “irrelevant”.

The charge against Hu centers on six articles and two press interviews he gave, all of them discuss issues of human rights violations. Hu pleaded not guilty to the charge.

This is yet another incident where the law is used to persecute free speech! It flies directly in the face of the Chinese leaders who repeatedly claim that China is a ‘country with the rule of law!’ said Renee Xia, international director of CHRD.

Although the trial was supposed to be public, Hu’s father, his wife (Zeng Jinyan, 曾金燕), and a number of foreign diplomats were barred from attending it. According to the authorities, Hu’s father and wife were barred from the trial because they are “witnesses” to the case and have previously been questioned in connection to it. Hu’s mother was allowed to attend the trial. The courtroom was otherwise packed with a dozen court officials and police officers.

About 50 journalists waited outside of the court. The authorities have taken away a number of Hu’s outspoken friends and supporters in Beijing and brought them to locations outside of the capital to prevent them from speaking with journalists.

CHRD calls for Hu’s immediate and unconditional release.

Since the prosecutors’ only “evidence” against Hu consists of articles he wrote and press interviews he gave that discuss human rights issues, CHRD believes that Hu is being prosecuted solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and to defend human rights. The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed in Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, which China has signed but not yet ratified).

CHRD deplores the denial of Hu‘s right to due process, which is guaranteed in China’s Criminal Procedure Law as well as Article 14 of the ICCPR. Hu’s trial was unfair on several grounds. During the trial, his lawyers were given much less time to speak compared to his prosecutors, thus violating the principle of equality which is essential in a fair trial. The trial was effectively closed to the public, as Hu’s immediate family members and his supporters were barred from attending it.

The processes of investigation and interrogation prior to Hu’s trial were equally flawed. In the first month of his detention, Hu was deprived of access to legal counsel and to his family. Then, only one of his two lawyers was allowed to visit him. He was repeatedly interrogated for up to 14 hours each time, usually at night. And then, the court gave insufficient time—seven days only—for his lawyers to study the large volume of case files in preparation for his defense.

For more information, please see:

Hu Jia’s Trial for “Inciting Subversion of State Power” Scheduled for March 18 (March 13, 2008)
Hu Jia Formally Arrested: Authorities Impervious To International Protest (January 31, 2008)
Detained Activist Hu Jia Denied Access to Lawyer, His Family Harassed (January 6, 2008)
Beijing Activist Hu Jia Detained on Suspicion of “Inciting Subversion of State Power” (December 28, 2007)

For more information about “inciting subversion of state power”, please see:
“Inciting Subversion of State Power”:A Legal Tool for Prosecuting Free Speech in China (January 8, 2008)

  • Back to Top