[CHRB] Rights Lawyers Fight Against Reprisals (2/27-3/5/15)Comments Off on [CHRB] Rights Lawyers Fight Against Reprisals (2/27-3/5/15)
China Human Rights Briefing
February 27 – March 5, 2015
Reprisals Against Human Rights Lawyers
- Henan Lawyer Forced Out by Firm; 120 Lawyers Ask NPC to Repeal Annual Review System
- Details of Torture of Guangdong Activist Li Biyun Reported to UN Envoy
Reprisals Against Human Rights Lawyers
Henan Lawyer Forced Out by Firm; 120 Lawyers Ask NPC to Repeal Annual Review System
A law firm in Henan Province has forced out lawyer Ma Lianshun (马连顺) in likely reprisal for his representing “politically sensitive” cases of clients seized prior to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. The Zhengzhou branch of Jiangsu Tianzhiquan Law Firm initially gave Ma a dismissal notice, which—after he complained—was then adjusted to allow him to “leave to work elsewhere.” In providing Ma a period for him to seek other opportunities, the firm stopped short of outright firing him, but only after two previous directors negotiated with the firm on his behalf.
The firm had tried before to pressure Ma Lianshun into ending his defense of activists initially detained in May 2014, but it is unclear what, if any, government influence has been exerted to penalize him. Ma represents Yu Shiwen (于世文), who police arrested in July 2014 for organizing a June Fourth memorial service months earlier, as well as housing rights activists Jia Lingmin (贾灵敏) and Liu Diwei (刘地伟), who were arrested last May. He also represented fellow lawyer Chang Boyang (常伯阳), co-founder of the NGO Zhengzhou Yirenping, who was released on bail in November.
Forcing human rights lawyers to leave their law firms, where they need to obtain approval before taking on cases, is a common way that authorities retaliate against such attorneys. Firms could be forced to close if they lose their licensing during the annual review by government authorities. To address this particular problem, more than 100 lawyers recently sent an open letter to the National People’s Congress, which opened its annual session on March 5. The letter calls on the NPC to repeal administrative measures related to the annual review, which has been used to delay or revoke lawyers’ licenses over the years. The lawyers argue that measures issued by the Ministry of Justice in 2010, which established the annual review system that requires lawyers and firms be officially certified, are outside the scope of the Law on Lawyers (2007). The reviews are often used to punish or pressure lawyers who take on human rights cases, and additional government involvement in the process makes it easy for authorities to manipulate.
Details of Torture of Guangdong Activist Li Biyun Reported to UN Envoy
CHRD has submitted information on the torture of activist Li Biyun (李碧云) at the hands of Guangdong police to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Police initially targeted Li due to her land rights activism in Foshan City, and later when she ran as an independent candidate in a local election in 2011. She alleges that police officers tortured her multiple times in detention facilities and police stations from 2009 to 2014, including physically assaulting her (sometimes while she was handcuffed), strapping her to a “tiger bench” (a torture device), depriving her of food, water, and adequate medical treatment, and verbally threatening her. Most recently, police detained her in October 2013 and held her for 14 months, half of which time she was hospitalized due to injuries sustained after police beat her. In the hospital, she was shackled to her bed, deprived of medicine, and denied other medical treatments. Police released Li in December 2014, and she was rushed to an emergency room a week later. Li suffers from permanent damage to her legs and back, and police continue to threaten her and her family.
CHRD has asked the Special Rapporteur to inquire about Li Biyun’s case with the Chinese government, which has been a party to the UN Convention against Torture since 1988. The Convention obligates the government to end torture, hold torturers accountable, and provide reparation and rehabilitation to victims.
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 “Urgent Alert: Zhengzhou Lawyer Ma Lianshun Given Notice by Law Firm for Representing Sensitive Cases” (紧急关注：郑州律师马连顺因代理敏感案件被律所要求限期调离), March 1, 2014, Rights Defence Network; “121 Mainland Lawyers: Repeal Ministry of Justice ‘Method of Law Firms Annual Review Examination’ Application” (121名大陆律师：撤销司法部《律师事务所年度检查考核办法》的申请书), February 28, 2015, RDN.