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Protect China  lawyers – England-and-Wales body
Law Society of England and Wales HQ at Chancery Lane in London Pic: Shutterstock

16 Feb 2024 / rule of law Print

Protect China's lawyers – England-and-Wales body

The legislative and regulatory framework for lawyers working in the People’s Republic of China challenges their independence and legitimate activities, the Law Society of England and Wales warned today.

The Law Society has raised its concerns with the United Nations (UN) as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human-rights records of all UN member states that take place every four to five years.

The society said: “Since the last UN review of China under the UPR, it is reported that changes to the legislative and regulatory framework may be being used to interfere with the independence of the legal profession and the ability of lawyers to conduct their work and represent their clients effectively.

“We are concerned over claims that the Administrative Measures for the Practice of Law by Lawyers is being used to prevent lawyers from conducting their legitimate professional services.

“For example, there are reports that lawyers have faced sanctions when challenging the lawfulness of court proceedings, publicising accusations that their client’s rights have been violated, or criticising the government’s treatment of lawyers.”

Arbitrary detention

The organisation concluded: "Our report also highlights allegations that lawyers have been subjected to arbitrary detention, illegitimate criminal prosecution, unfair trials, enforced disappearance, torture, and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“We are concerned over reports that some lawyers face Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location, which may involve incommunicado detention for up to six months in an undisclosed location.

Undue interference

“All lawyers in China must be able to practise their profession without undue interference, in compliance with international standards on the independence of the legal profession.

“The provisions under the Administrative Measures for the Practice of Law by Lawyers should be amended and brought into line with international standards.

“We urge the UN to call on China to ensure lawyers are able to exercise their profession freely and independently.

“We also call on China to release lawyers Ding Jiaxi, Li Yuhan, Chang Weiping, Yu Wensheng, Xu Zhiyong, and Hao Jinsong, who have been detained and sentenced following trials which have been reported as failing to comply with international fair trial standards.”

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