International Law

Chinese Lawyers Barred from Dinner With U.S. Congressmen

At least three Chinese human-rights lawyers were put under house arrest before a scheduled dinner on Sunday with two members of the U.S. Congress.

Chinese police took two lawyers from their homes and barred them from returning to Beijing, and prevented another from leaving his apartment complex, the Washington Post reports. At least six other lawyers were either warned not to attend or barred from doing so, the story says.

The Post got its information from Chinese Human Rights Defenders and the two congressmen, U.S. Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Frank Wolf, R-Va. Smith and Wolf had hoped to persuade China to release jailed dissidents before the Olympic games.

“China has regressed,” Wolf told the Post. “There has been absolutely, positively no progress” on human rights.

The house arrests come at a time when Chinese citizens are filing more lawsuits and showing increased confidence in the legal system. The Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.) that lawyers in China are filing lawsuits over discrimination, poor labor conditions and even censorship. The actions were once unthinkable, but in some cases the suits are resulting in judgments for the plaintiffs.

The country has 122,000 full-time lawyers, compared to 48,000 in 1997.

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