International Law

Lawyers in China Face Retaliation for Sensitive Cases, Report Says

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Lawyers in China face increasing intimidation and harassment for taking politically sensitive cases, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

The report said some prominent lawyers have been detained or arrested for bringing cases that are viewed as challenges to the Communist Party, the Associated Press reports. Cases considered controversial often involve human rights, evictions and abuses of power, the story says.

Other lawyers face the prospect that their law licenses will not be renewed for representing controversial parties or becoming involved in sensitive lawsuits.

“Chinese lawyers continue to face huge obstacles in defending citizens whose rights have been violated and ordinary criminal suspects,” the report says.

A press release says lawyers who were harassed included:

–Li Heping, a prominent Beijing lawyer was kidnapped, detained and beaten by a group of unidentified men.

–Zhang Jiankang, a lawyer who had represented farmers in a high-profile land dispute. His license was not renewed.

–Zhang Jianzhong, a prominent lawyer who headed the committee on lawyers’ rights of the Beijing Lawyers Association. He was sentenced to two years in prison in December based on charges he helped fabricate evidence.

All of the lawyers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they had been warned about repercussions of their work. One lawyer told the group the government withholds evidence in criminal trials and interferes with lawyers’ efforts to collect evidence.

“Chinese lawyers are powerless,” the lawyer was quoted as saying. The group spoke to 48 lawyers, legal experts, human rights activists and journalists.

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